Max Verstappen. Image: @_HenryMill/X

‘Verstappen ‘single-handedly saved F1’ says ex-team manager

Former AlphaTauri Team Manager Graham Watson claims Verstappen made F1 popular again, saying he brought new audience to the sport.


Max Verstappen. Image: @_HenryMill/X

Former AlphaTauri Team Manager Graham Watson claims Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen “single-handedly saved Formula 1.

Watson says the three time F1 champions has generated a lot of interest from fans.

Verstappen made his F1 debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso before making a move to Red Bull a year later where he gradually managed to get to the top and became one of the best drivers on the grid.

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Last season, the 26-year-old Dutchman has claimed several F1 records including 19 race wins in a single campaign.

Watson says Verstappen reminded him of Michael Schumacher.

“Max is the best thing that has happened to Formula 1,” he said in an interview with

“When Max went from us to Red Bull, I compared it to Michael Schumacher going to Ferrari. He made Formula 1 immensely popular at the time.

“Just look at the old images of Hockenheim and Spa: full stands with Schumacher flags. I think Max single-handedly saved Formula 1.

Verstappen compared to Schumacher

“Because he brings the same intensity and generates interest. People come en masse to Austria, Spa: actually everywhere for him,” he said.

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Although Verstappen has dominated F1 for the past two years, he’s still not the most popular driver.

Seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton is still the most popular and well-known F1 driver.

On Instagram, the Brit still has more followers compared to any other driver. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is second followed by Verstappen.

Watson’s claim that Verstappen ‘saved F1’ has some merit to it, given the fact that traditional fans around circuits like Spa and Zandvoort have flocked in numbers since Max won his championship.

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“I didn’t see that even in Schumacher’s time. My wife is 60 years old, but a big fan of Max. Because of his style, because he creates excitement on the court. Max brings a whole new audience to Formula 1.”

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In terms of bringing a new audience to the sport, Lewis Hamilton made the sport more popular globally than any other driver and continues to do so even to this date.