Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko has declared 16-year-old Max Verstappen as an 'exceptional talent that only comes once in decades' as the teenager prepares to become the youngest driver to race in F1.

Red Bull raised eyebrows in August with the announcement that Verstappen will make the direct move from F3 to F1 with the Scuderia Toro Rosso team in 2015, despite having not completed his first season of car racing.

Set to become the youngest driver to race in F1 when he makes his proposed debut in Australia next season aged just 17 years 166 days, he will break the current record by a comprehensive margin of almost two years.

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However, while his relative lack of experience and age has attracted headlines, Marko - who was instrumental in the signing of the young Dutchman - holds the son of former F1 driver Jos in high esteem, comparing him to Ayrton Senna in terms of raw talent.

"[He is ] Most likely Ayrton Senna," he told the official F1 website when asked who Max reminds him of. "And in such a case you must not look at his age. He has been talking with people who are experts when it comes to the development of youngsters and they all say that (in terms of) his mind he is more like 22 than 16.

"Regarding his skills behind the steering wheel, he has been racing since he was four years old - professionally. So we expect him to be competitive from the first race. We are not playing the lottery - we know what we are doing. And success proves us right.

"He is an exceptional talent that comes along only once in decades..."

Replacing Jean-Eric Vergne in the STR team and joining fellow teen F1 debutant Daniil Kvyat, Marko says every measure is being taken to ensure Verstappen is prepared for the big step.

"As I said: mentally he is past 20 years old! And yes, we work with him intensively. He will do some Friday runs. Not long ago he did a 400 km test in Italy, he's in the simulator whenever possible and he's working on his physique and psychology with top experts. Yes, some things became visible that we will have to address for the 2015 season. Having said that, he is getting the perfect 'schooling' before he gets on the grid."

Verstappen is currently second in the FIA European Formula 3 standing behind champion-elect and Lotus-backed Frenchman Esteban Ocon.