Andretti hails Verstappen as 'once-in-a-lifetime' talent


Max Verstappen is a "once-in-a-lifetime" talent with a "brilliant future", according to 1978 Formula One champion Mario Andretti.

Verstappen has enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2016, moving from Toro Rosso to Red Bull after four races and claiming his maiden grand prix victory on debut for the senior team in Spain.

The 19-year-old's talents were on full display in a breathtaking drive at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, the highlight of which was a thrilling 16-lap climb from 16th to third in wet conditions.

Verstappen has been tipped as a future world champion and Andretti, who won his drivers' title with Lotus, says the hype around the Dutchman is deserved.

"I think Max is definitely a revelation for this year," he told Omnisport. "Look at his age and maturity and mistake-free performance at the highest level.

"This last race in Brazil, under conditions that are the ultimate challenge, he just performed unbelievably.

"So he's a raw talent and that kind of talent comes along once in a lifetime.

"There's a lot to be heard from him. Obviously he's got a brilliant future. He's a great young man."

Verstappen finished third behind Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who will face off for the drivers' title in Abu Dhabi a week on Sunday with the German leading by 12 points in the standings.

"I was hoping we would get that result to keep the championship alive and it happened," Andretti added. "It looked like both Lewis and Nico are doing exactly what they have to do at this point.

"So Abu Dhabi's just going to be a nail-biter for everyone, which is wonderful for Formula One and those of us looking forward to watching it."