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‘He’s a special talent’ – Sainz and Gasly heap praise on former team mate Verstappen

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MONZA - Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) congratulates Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) on achieving pole

Max Verstappen has received another wave of praise from former team mates Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly as his run to what would be a third successive F1 world title continues at pace.

Verstappen has taken 12 of the 14 race wins on offer this season – including a record 10 on the bounce – to build up a sizeable lead in the drivers’ standings and put one hand on the championship trophy.

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One of those wins came on home soil in the Netherlands, where a passionate capacity crowd cheered his every move and showcased the loyal fanbase he has built up across his career to date.

Speaking at the recent Zandvoort event, two of his ex-team mates in Sainz (during their debut 2015 season at Toro Rosso) and Gasly (for the first half of the 2019 season at Red Bull) took a moment to discuss the noise around Verstappen from an early age and the impact he’s had on the sport.

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Sainz and Gasly have both spent time as Verstappen’s team mate in F1

“I think if there was something that Max never lacked, it was hype around him,” said Ferrari driver Sainz. “I think he had the hype even well before his debut in Formula 1.

“When he was in F3, he had already a lot of following. I think his first year in F1, he came in and stormed F1 and had a lot of following behind him.

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“It doesn’t surprise me at all, because I’ve always, since I debuted with him in 2015… I’ve always seen that hype, and I’ve always understood it, because obviously he’s a special talent and someone that is performing really, really well since the beginning.”

Gasly also pointed to Verstappen’s father, ex-F1 racer Jos, as he reinforced Sainz’s praise of a driver who has already notched up 47 race victories – the first coming in only his second F1 campaign in 2016 after securing a mid-season promotion to Red Bull.

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“It was clear already from a very young age, when we raced in karting, the hype around him was already very different to any other drivers,” said the Alpine racer.

“It was clear going up the ranks that there was more attention, more focus, driven by the name, the performances, all the hype around Jos and Max’s relationship, so it was no surprise.

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“The way that he came to F1 and performed and switched to Red Bull just amplified everything that followed, but I would say it’s no surprise that he’s where he is today and he’s got the following, especially in the Netherlands. From an outside point of view, he seems to be pretty much the icon of the country.”

Verstappen and Red Bull will be looking to continue their winning ways as the F1 season rolls on to Marina Bay for the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.

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