In 2015, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz made their Formula One debut together with junior team Toro Rosso, now known as Alpha Tauri. A year later, Verstappen made the switch to Red Bull Racing during the season, where he immediately won the Spanish Grand Prix. Red Bull loaned Sainz to Renault in 2017, but he did not return.
Verstappen and Sainz at Toro Rosso
"We were very strong back then," the Red Bull advisor says about the former Toro Rosso driver duo. "But in Max we saw a better driver." Actually, Red Bull did not want to make a choice between the two, but had to do so anyway. "We were very keen to offer Sainz a contract," Marko explained. "Verstappen and Sainz were very much on par, but we couldn't offer him anything other than a place at Toro Rosso."
"First we loaned him out, but then the contract was completely cancelled. We didn't want to stand in the way of his future. Verstappen's results since then have more than justified our decision." Since Sainz's departure, Red Bull has struggled to find a good teammate for Verstappen. Neither Pierre Gasly nor Alexander Albon came close, and Sergio Perez has struggled so far.