Tost recalls moment he knew Verstappen was destined for greatness

Outgoing AlphaTauri F1 team principal Franz Tost has recalled the moment he realised just how special Max Verstappen was. 
Max Verstappen (NLD) Scuderia Toro Rosso and Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia Toro Rosso Team
Max Verstappen (NLD) Scuderia Toro Rosso and Franz Tost (AUT) Scuderia…

Tost retired from his role at the end of the 2023 season, bringing to an end an 18-year tenure in the sport. 

During that time, the no-nonsense 67-year-old Austrian introduced some of the greatest drivers to F1, including the likes of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and Verstappen, who romped to a third consecutive world title by winning 19 of the 22 races last year. 

Verstappen was just 17 years and three days old when he was handed his F1 practice bow by Toro Rosso at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, a decision that led to Tost being described as “totally crazy”. 

But Tost had already seen enough to convince him that the Dutchman was destined for greatness. 

"I remember Max at the Norisring [circuit in Germany] at 16 years old. It was wet and he was one and a half to two seconds faster than anyone else. I said all other drivers should give back their licences, the only driver in this field is Max Verstappen,” Tost told BBC Sport. 

Tost recalls moment he knew Verstappen was destined for greatness

"During his first test I was really impressed how fast he adapted to the speed and brakes… normally drivers need 100-150km to get used to the enormous power which an F1 car has under accelerating and under braking. But from the first lap onwards he was familiar with everything.

"We decided he would do FP1 in Suzuka [at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix] and journalists said: 'You are totally crazy… Suzuka is one of the most dangerous tracks; how can you start him in FP1? He has to be prepared.’

"I said: 'Don't talk so much, let's discuss in five years, then we will see who was right - you or me?' It didn't take five years - immediately, from the first year.” 

Tost was proved right. Verstappen was an instant hit during an eye-catching rookie campaign in 2015 and went on to become F1’s youngest-ever race winner on his Red Bull debut the following season.

"It was the same with Vettel - both of them had similar approaches, similar attitudes,” Tost continued. 

"It was fantastic to work together with these drivers… [Daniel] Ricciardo, [Carlos] Sainz and [Pierre] Gasly - all are high-class drivers with a lot of potential in them.”

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