Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz shared a “toxic” relationship, according to the Austrian team’s advisor Helmut Marko. The 79-year-old also praised the latter for his dedication during his younger days, which helped him make it to the top of Formula 1.
Verstappen and Sainz began their F1 careers with Toro Rosso after coming through the Red Bull Young Driver programme in 2015. The duo’s talent was easy to see as they battled each other for supremacy within the team.
The Dutch racer won the battle during their debut campaign, outscoring the Spaniard 49 points to 18. Verstappen’s raw pace saw him promoted to the senior Red Bull team owing to Daniil Kvyat’s struggles, which paid immediate dividends as he won his first race with the team in 2016.
After Verstappen’s promotion, Sainz clearly saw no route forward and eventually departed the team to join Renault, before moving on to McLaren and finally landing a drive with current employers Ferrari. Marko admitted that it was his inability to retain the Spanish racer that saw the latter leave to join a competitor.
“It was his (Sainz’s) bad luck to get Max as a team-mate,” Marko said, as quoted on Planet F1.
“The atmosphere between the two at Toro Rosso was quite toxic. In the set-up we had at the time, I couldn’t see a way of keeping him with us and so he moved to Renault, McLaren and then on to Ferrari.”
Marko was full of praise for Sainz, who initially struggled to get out from under the shadow of his legendary father. Carlos Sainz Sr. is a double World Rally Champion, and Marko feels that skewed the impression the F1 paddock had of the young Spaniard.
“For a long time he lived in the shadow of his father, the two-time world rally champion,” Marko added. “He was unfairly saddled with the image of being the spoiled son of a racing driver whereas, on the contrary, Carlos had to fight consistently to get ahead.”
After a brief stint battling in the midfield, Sainz is finally able to battle at the front of the grid alongside teammate Charles Leclerc. The Spaniard even recorded his first career F1 win at the recently concluded British Grand Prix.