Max Verstappen ‘better equipment’ theory settled by former team manager

Sam Cooper
Red Bull's Max Verstappen on pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has only ever been beaten by two team-mates.

Former Toro Rosso manager Graham Watson has denied that Max Verstappen was ever given better equipment than his F1 team-mates, arguing that he was simply faster.

The Dutchman joined Toro Rosso in 2015 alongside Carlos Sainz before being promoted to Red Bull’s senior team in 2016, where he has seen off the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon.

Some have suggested the reason behind this is a car more suited to Verstappen’s style but Watson believes it is simply the talent of the three-time World Champion.

Max Verstappen better car theory denied by former manager

Only Ricciardo can claim to have beaten Verstappen on points in a season, having done so in 2016, with Verstappen making short work of current team-mate Sergio Perez in 2023.

Such was the deficit, some pondered if Red Bull made the car for Verstappen’s liking rather than Perez’s, but Watson does not think that is the case.

“To this day, I don’t think that [Verstappen’s father] Jos got a fair treatment [alongside Michael Schumacher] at Benetton,” Watson told

“And that has partly ensured that Max understands that aspect of the sport very well: he does not need better equipment, he wants the same equipment. Talent will do the rest.

“I noticed that immediately in Max’s first year with Carlos. Knowing them both, I knew Max would be top dog from the moment he got in the car with us.

“He didn’t have to play games or be political because he’s just incredibly fast. ‘I will do everything I can to help the team move forward, and you will follow me,’ he basically said with his actions.

“And ultimately you want to follow him, because success brings success and people want to follow that. In our team, we supported Max because we wanted him to be successful. We all saw how good he already was.

“In my opinion, Max is exceptional, like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. These types of guys enter Formula 1 and immediately leave their mark on the sport.

“And when you have someone like that on your team, how can you not support him with everything you have?”

Verstappen was coached from a young age by his father and Watson believes his Verstappen Sr has been a great influence on the Red Bull driver’s career. recommends

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“Jos was very involved in Max’s career back in 2015, and even so when Max moved to Red Bull the following year. That sometimes made things a bit difficult internally, but I didn’t have many problems with it.

“Again: why wouldn’t you want guys like Max on your team? I think there were people in our team that did have a hard time with that.

“Jos is very direct, it’s black or white. He wanted to ensure that Max would not be disadvantaged in any way, and he always stood up for his son’s interests. Fine. After all it’s his 17-year old son, and not a grown-up man.

“On the other side, Carlos Sainz’s father, a driven and successful rally champion, did the same.

“Was there any rivalry between the fathers? If there was, I didn’t see it. They both wanted the best for their sons, which is more than logical.

“Carlos is talented as well, I see similarities between the two. But I think Max has a little more natural speed.

“Jos was fast and had no fear, but missed that one little thing that gives you an advantage over your teammate. Max didn’t.”

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