Valtteri Bottas "like a young Alonso" - Max Verstappen "like Senna"
Two senior figures in F1 who are currently working with young drivers have compared them to two of the biggest names in the Sport's history.
Two senior figures in F1 who are currently working with young drivers have compared them to two of the biggest names in the Sport's history. Red Bull's motorsport director Helmut Marko has compared his new 16 year old signing Max Verstappen to Ayrton Senna, while Williams technical chief Pat Symonds says that Valtteri Bottas is beginning to remind him of Fernando Alonso in terms of his driving, not personality. Symonds worked closely with the Spaniard in his Renault days, when Alonso won his two world titles. Alonso was 25, the same age as Bottas is now, when he won his second title in 2006.
Speaking to F1.com Marko said when asked whom Verstappen could best be compared to as a talent, "Most likely Ayrton Senna. 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. And 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.
"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."
Red Bull is hoping to start Verstappen on Friday morning practice runs at the next round in Suzuka, Japan next week. Team boss Franz Tost said in Singapore that he has done the testing, now it is up to the FIA to decide whether to give him a Superlicence and that he expects a decision on that this week. Verstappen will turn 17 on September 30th, three days before his F1 debut in Suzuka.
One setback since Marko made the decision to race Verstappen next season is the FIA decision to ban coaching of drivers - and much more besides - via team radio, as an angry Tost acknowledged,
"For us, of course the more inexperienced a driver is the more information you have to give him and it requires a lot of work during the week to work out the programme," said Tost. "For me it’s absolutely nonsense what we are discussing here, because in all the other kinds of sport a coach gives some information, instructions to a footballer player on the sidelines or whatever.
"This does not mean that the sportsman is not able to do his job. He can do his job, he does do his job, but maybe he can do it in a better way. It’s just a performance improvement, therefore I don’t understand it."
Meanwhile Symonds was asked by this website about the progress of Bottas,
"Does he remind me of a young Alonso? Yes, very much so; there's a lot of intelligence there," says Symonds.
Williams engineers have been particularly struck that Bottas has a notable skill at knowing how much longer a set of tyres has left and can predict with uncanny accuracy when the performance will tail off,
"It's quite remarkable," says Symonds, "It really is. It's new to me because when I've worked with other young drivers, pre Pirelli tyres in F1, it wasn't something we focussed on, we didn't need to.
"But since Pirelli has come along there has been so much more focus on tyre life, because it's so cliff-edge. And I still find it amazing that he (Bottas) can do that and how accurately he can do it."
Bottas has scored a series of podiums this season thanks to strong qualifying performances backed up with well judged races. Unusually he came unstuck when he tried to get a set of soft tyres to the end in Singapore last weekend over 37 laps, but the tyres fell off a cliff before the end. Team mate Felipe Massa did manage it by "driving like a granny", as he put it.
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