Max Verstappen has undoubtedly made Formula 1 more interesting. His intense driving style has been a regular topic of conversation since his debut for Toro Rosso. According to Alpha Tauri team manager Graham Watson, Verstappen has even saved the sport from oblivion.
Watson has been working in Formula 1 since the 1990s, where he started as a mechanic. In that capacity he worked for Benetton, which later became BAR Honda and then Brawn GP. He later took on a new challenge as team manager for Lotus, before moving to Toro Rosso in 2014. There, he witnessed Verstappen up close in his early years.
According to Watson, who saw Michael Schumacher leave for Ferrari when he joined Benetton, there are some similarities between the two. For example, he compared Verstappen’s transition to Red Bull Racing with Schumacher’s to Ferrari .
Watson said Schumacher made the sport immensely popular, but he thinks that influence of Verstappen goes even further than that. “I think Max has saved Formula 1 from oblivion,” said the New Zealander in conversation with Formula 1 Magazine.
He sees Verstappen bringing the same intensity and interest, which can be seen in the many fans who travel to all corners of the world to support him from the stands.
According to Watson, Verstappen is attracting a new audience to Formula One because of his spectacular driving style, but also because of his character. “Lewis Hamilton is very talented, but is involved in so many things that people wonder: is he a Formula One driver or not? I’m not saying what he does is wrong, but Lewis Hamilton is a brand. Max Verstappen is a Formula One driver, and that’s not going to change,” Watson said.