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Max Verstappen F1 Legacy Contextualizing Jos's Experience

Max Verstappen’s Rise Shaped by Jos and F1 Legacy

18/01/2024

Exploring Max Verstappen‘s formative years, Graham Watson reveals how Jos’s experience with Michael Schumacher at Benetton crucially influenced Max’s approach and mindset in his own burgeoning Formula 1 career.

Graham Watson, the team manager for Max Verstappen during his first Formula 1 season, believes that his father Jos’s experience as Michael Schumacher’s teammate shaped the upbringing of the future world champion.

Watson, who was the team manager at Toro Rosso in 2015 when Verstappen debuted in Grand Prix, provided insights into how his father’s F1 career might have influenced him.

Jos Verstappen debuted in F1 21 years earlier at Benetton alongside Michael Schumacher, replacing the injured JJ Lehto, and was generally off the pace set by his leader.

“I think Jos felt that Michael Schumacher had better material and was favored,” Watson explains.

“I got the impression that Jos struggled to accept this, as he was also a very talented driver.”

Watson believes that Benetton team director Flavio Briatore gave Schumacher preferential treatment, leading Jos Verstappen to decide that his son must learn how to become his team’s absolute priority.

“Flavio had a strong connection with Michael, both in sport and personally. That’s why I think Jos instilled in Max from an early age that the first thing to do is to destroy his teammates. And we’ve seen that in recent years.”

Max Verstappen: Talent and Team Dynamics Define His F1 Rise

“It must be your team, you have to be the man around whom it revolves. I’m convinced that you now see this with Max as well: first beat your teammate, then win the title.”

“To this day, I still don’t think Jos got a fair deal at Benetton. And this partly helped Max to understand this aspect of the sport very well: he doesn’t need better equipment, he wants the same equipment. Talent will do the rest.”

“I noticed this immediately from Max’s first year with Carlos [Sainz]. Knowing them both, I knew Max would be the best from the moment he got in the car with us. He didn’t need to play games or engage in politics because he’s incredibly fast.”

“He somewhat told us through his performances: ‘I will do everything I can to help the team move forward and you will follow me’. And in the end, you want to follow him, because success brings success and people want to follow it. In our team, we supported Max because we wanted him to succeed. We all saw how good he already was.”

“In my opinion, Max is exceptional, like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. These types of guys come into Formula 1 and immediately leave their mark on the sport. And when you have someone like that in your team, how can you not support them with everything you have?”

Max Verstappen F1 Legacy Contextualizing Jos’s Experience. Max Verstappen F1 Legacy Contextualizing Jos’s Experience

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