Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko says Max Verstappen's 2016 performances have fully vindicated his decision to switch up to the top team in May and explains why he still has one key weak area in his driving.
Verstappen shot to the headlines during the build-up to the Spanish Grand Prix after being promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull at the expense of Daniil Kvyat.
After the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed into one another Verstappen swept to a maiden F1 victory on his Red Bull debut.
Since then the Dutch starlet has continued to impress, most notably in the rain in Brazil when he charged through the pack to finish third.
“He's shown on many occasions that he is light years away from your common Formula One driver by winning his first race sitting in a Red Bull,” Marko said. “Yes, the two Mercedes drivers took each other out so this win probably fell in our laps, but Brazil showed that he is not only above average but that he will be a great one.
“I first met him he was 15 - a 15-year-old boy with the maturity of a 26-year-old man and an unbelievable self-confidence. Since then three years have passed and he's had a sensational learning curve. He doesn't make mistakes twice - so he is definitely ready for the title fight.”
VOTE: Is Rosberg's one of F1's greatest champions?
Despite lavishing the 19-year-old driver with praise Marko is quick to keep Verstappen in check up outlining a main point of improvement in F1.
“He is sometimes not patient enough,” he said. “He sometimes tries to force situations his way when all he has to do is wait a bit and it will fall into his lap.”
Having spent the opening four races with Toro Rosso, Verstappen ended 2016 fifth in the drivers' championship having gone on to claim six further rostrums in addition to his win in Spain.
Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst