Nov.15 (GMM) Formula 1 should “thank Max Verstappen” rather than criticise him, according to the sport’s former long-time supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The 92-year-old no longer attends races after being ousted by Liberty Media in 2017, but he was back in the paddock at Interlagos – as he lives nearby with his Brazilian wife and child.
“It’s nice to see that Formula 1 is moving forward,” the 92-year-old told De Telegraaf newspaper.
“A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. I’ve seen countless familiar faces,” Ecclestone said.
F1’s back-to-back and reigning world champion Verstappen has dominated in 2022, but he has also been embroiled in controversies – including the budget cap overspend and his refusal to let teammate Sergio Perez past last Sunday.
“Formula 1 should thank Max Verstappen,” Ecclestone insisted. “Max is a racer.
“He does what he has to do – he just races. The fans have wanted to see someone like that for a long, long time.”
The diminutive Briton said Verstappen can also be credited for reviving the popularity of Formula 1 in the Netherlands – leading to the revival of the Dutch GP.
“The Netherlands is so proud of him and everyone is behind him,” he said. “That is the only reason why we are back in Zandvoort.
“I haven’t been there the last two times, but hopefully things have improved a bit there, otherwise it wouldn’t be good,” Ecclestone smiled.
He also thinks the 25-year-old will continue to dominate.
“It depends on his car, but if Red Bull keeps it together, I don’t see why he can’t keep winning,” said Ecclestone.
When asked if he will break Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton’s joint all-time record of seven world championships, he answered: “Who knows. I hope so.”