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Verstappen visited Mercedes: Lauda asked: 'How much is Marko offering?'

Verstappen visited Mercedes: "Lauda asked: 'How much is Marko offering?'"

17-12-2020 19:33 Last update: 22:02


Max Verstappen was the youngest debutant in Formula 1 when he joined Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2015. After a change in the minimum age for entry to 18 years it turned out that he will forever be the youngest debutant. Key figures Jos Verstappen, Raymond Vermeulen and Helmut Marko look back on the period.

Verstappen youngest rookie ever

It was his father Jos, manager Vermeulen and Red Bull Racing team advisor Marko who arranged that Max Verstappen could already drive his first F1 season at the age of seventeen. Almost six years later, the still young Dutchman starts his seventh season again as a great challenger to the world title.

In the documentary Whatever it Takes the key figures in Verstappen's career look back at the moment he was promoted to F1. Vermeulen kicks off: "At the time, Max was already approached by Lotus, McLaren and Ferrari. Red Bull was interested in Max at a very early stage. You did notice that Max was already on the radar of junior programs".

Verstappen is of the outside category

The manager thinks: "In the end, that was a confirmation that Max was in the outside category". The decision was made to drive in Formula 3 at Van Amersfoort Racing, where the young Verstappen immediately attracted a lot of attention.

Jos Verstappen: "Helmut called me Monday morning after the Norusring where Max won all three races." Marko remembers: "Max was in a class of his own there. That made a huge impression on me and that convinced me. We discussed Formula 2 as a possible next step, or the GP3."

We're going for Formula 1

However, Marko was convinced of the young driver and knew there was more to it and that there was no time to lose with his talent: "So I called Jos and said 'Jos, forget everything, we're going for Formula 1'". On the other hand at Verstappen senior it remained quiet. Both gentlemen can still remember that. Marko: "I think I didn't get an answer for a minute".

At Hockenheim the first talks took place between both parties. Jos Verstappen remembers: "We walked out of the Red Bull hospitality and then Niki Lauda called. He said: 'I see you are here with Max, can we talk to you for a moment?'"

"So at Red Bull we walked out and I walked into the Mercedes hospitality. And there were Niki Lauda and Toto [Wolff]. Then Lauda asked, "What's Helmut offering? Well, I said, "Two years at Toro Rosso". Mercedes couldn't guarantee that we would get into Formula 1, it was just that simple".