Max Verstappen had ‘toxic’ relationship with team-mate as Red Bull boss speaks out

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MAX VERSTAPPEN has not always had the best relationship with his team-mates.

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Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has described Max Verstappen’s relationship with Carlos Sainz while the pair were at Toro Rosso as ‘toxic’. The pair spent just 23 races as a pairing between 2015 and 2016 before the Dutchman made his move to the front of the grid – but they now find themselves locked in battle again for the World Championship. 

Marko’s role within the Red Bull set up has been to make the key decisions regarding driver placement for the energy drink’s manufacturer’s two teams. In 2015 he took the major gamble of choosing two young rookie drivers to make up the Toro Rosso line up for the season. 

The risk was hugely beneficial in the case of Verstappen with the then 17-year-old excelling across the season with two fourth place finishes in Hungary and the USA being two stand out moments. His form quickly earned him a move to the Red Bull senior team as a replacement for Daniil Kyvat in 2016, becoming the youngest race winner in Formula One history in his first race for the side. 

Sainz in contrast took a little bit longer to get properly going and was moved on to Renault before the end of the 2017 season. He has since enjoyed successful stints for the French outfit and McLaren and has now found himself racing for the legendary outfit Ferrari, where he claimed his first ever race win this season at Silverstone.

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Max Verstappen had 'toxic' relationship with team-mate as Red Bull boss speaks out

Max Verstappen had a ‘toxic’ relationship with Carlos Sainz at Toro Rosso (Image: GETTY)

Marko does not believe that the original partnership at Toro Rosso benefitted Sainz and cost him his future within the Red Bull set-up. 

It was his [Sainz’s] bad luck to get Max as a team-mate,” remarked Marko in an interview in The Red Bulletin.

“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 now Ferrari.” 

Sainz’s path to the senior team was blocked by the expectation that Daniel Ricciardo would partner Verstappen for the long term. However, the Australian decided to move on at the end of the 2018 season for Renault, ironically replacing the Spaniard. 

Marko’s previous experience with the ‘toxic’ atmosphere between the two suggests that Sainz would never have been a consideration to replace the outgoing Riccardo. 

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Max Verstappen had 'toxic' relationship with team-mate as Red Bull boss speaks out

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz represented Toro Rosso together for 23 races (Image: GETTY)

Marko also believes the 27-year-old struggled during the early stages of his career due to the weight of expectation placed upon him by his father’s legendary rallying exploits. 

“For a long time, he lived in the shadow of his father, the two-time world rally champion,” Marko explained. “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.”

Sainz will take heart from the fact he still managed to reach the top of the sport despite taking a longer route than Verstappen. His focus will continue to be on winning the WDC for himself and helping Ferrari win the constructors championship when the Formula One circus rolls into France next weekend. 

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