Both Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly say the “hype” surrounding Max Verstappen preceded his Formula 1 days, and now he is making it clear why said hype exists.
Verstappen had a very unconventional route into the world of Formula 1 as at the age of 17, he went from Formula 3 straight to Formula 1 as part of the driver line-up at Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso.
There, he partnered Sainz and the following year earned his promotion to the main Red Bull team, debuting at the Spanish Grand Prix as he replaced Daniil Kvyat.
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper
Carlos Sainz always understood the Max Verstappen “hype”
Fast forward to F1 2023 and Verstappen has established himself as the dominant force of Formula 1, currently on a streak of eight wins in a row as he homes in on a third World Championship.
Next up is Verstappen’s home race, the Dutch Grand Prix, and when speaking to media including PlanetF1.com, Sainz was asked whether he could see this level from Verstappen coming back when they were Toro Rosso team-mates?
“I think if there was something that Max never lacked, it was hype around him,” Sainz replied.
“I think he had the hype even well before his debut in Formula 1. When he was in F3 he had already a lot of following. I think his first year in F1, came in and stormed F1 and had a lot of following behind him.
“So it doesn’t surprise me at all because I’ve always, since I debuted with him in 2015, which is now eight years ago, I’ve always seen that hype and I’ve always understood it because obviously he’s a special talent and someone that is performing really, really well since the beginning.”
Gasly in 2019 would experience the force of nature that is Verstappen first-hand, his promotion to Red Bull lasting only half a season as his struggles to contend with the Dutchman’s performance level saw him demoted back to Toro Rosso.
His take on the Verstappen “hype” then bore many similarities to Sainz’s assessment.
“It was clear already from the very young age, when we raced in karting, the hype around him was already very different to any other drivers,” said Gasly.
“It was clear going up the ranks that there was more attention, more focus, driven by the name, the performances, all the hype around Jos’ and Max’s relationship, so it was no surprise the way that he came to Formula 1 and performed and the switch to Red Bull just amplified everything that followed.
“But I would say it’s no surprise that he’s where he is today and he’s got the following, and especially in the Netherlands. From an outside point of view, he seems to be pretty much the icon of the country. So it explains why 99.9% of the grandstands are full of orange when we come to Zandvoort.”
If Verstappen claims victory at his home race, he will match Sebastian Vettel’s record for most consecutive wins with nine.
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