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Verstappen controversially credited with 'SAVING F1'

Verstappen controversially credited with 'SAVING F1'

Verstappen controversially credited with 'SAVING F1'

Verstappen controversially credited with 'SAVING F1'

AlphaTauri team manager Graham Watson has said that Max Verstappen is 'the best thing that has happened to Formula 1', comparing the Dutchman's popularity with that of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

Verstappen has claimed three drivers' world championships in a row, since beating F1 legend Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 title in spectacular fashion.

Before this run of Verstappen and Red Bull dominance, Mercedes had won eight consecutive constructors' championships, with Hamilton managing to claim six of his seven drivers' titles during that time.

The 2021 fight between the pair represented the first thrilling title battle since arguably 2016, and had F1 fans on the edge of their seats right up until the controversial season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

2016 was also the year in which Verstappen was promoted into the Red Bull seat aged just 18, and claimed victory in his first race with the team.

Max Verstappen claimed victory in his first ever race with Red Bull
Max Verstappen has claimed three consecutive world championship titles at Red Bull
Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time Formula 1 world champion

Verstappen's Schumacher influence

Now, a key member of Verstappen's team from his first season in the sport with Toro Rosso (later AlphaTauri), has said that the Dutchman 'single-handedly' saved F1.

“Max is the best thing that has happened to Formula 1,” Watson told Verstappen.com, via Formule1.

“When Max went from us to Red Bull, I compared it to Michael Schumacher’s move to Ferrari. He made Formula 1 immensely popular at the time. Just look at the old images of Hockenheim and Spa: the stands were full with Schumacher flags.

“I think Max single-handedly saved Formula 1. Because he brings the same intensity and generates interest," he continued.

"People come en masse to Austria, Spa, actually everywhere for him. I didn’t even see that back in Schumacher’s time. My wife is 60 years old, but a big fan of Max. Because of his style, because of the excitement he creates on track.”

READ MORE: F1 presenter blasts Verstappen haters as ‘ridiculous’

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