F1 chief drops Max Verstappen ‘breaking his leg’ quip as dominance intensifies

Michelle Foster
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen pulls an unimpressed face as he is interviewed.

Max Verstappen's incredible season has been 'tough' on F1 TV numbers.

Formula 1 is a “very attractive competitive product”, or it would be if Max Verstappen broke his leg “a la Tonya Harding” joked Liberty Media boss Greg Maffei.

Formula 1’s second season racing ground-effect aerodynamic cars has seen Red Bull build on last year’s success to race to 14 wins in 14 grands prix, 12 of those having been claimed by Verstappen.

The reigning World Champion is charging toward a third successive World title and doing so in record-breaking form having set a new record for the most successive wins, 10, last time out in Monza.

‘The challenge obviously is Max Verstappen is having an unbelievable year’

With the team on track for a season’s whitewash,Red Bull believe if they can win in Singapore on Sundayit will be on the cards, the Milton Keynes squad’s rivals are playing a game of catch-up. And it’s one they are losing.

There is little sign at present of any team chasing down the RB19 with Aston Martin, Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren all taking a turn as the second-fastest team on the track.

They have at least provided the season’s entertainment in doing so.

“中场很有趣,我们可以商店w statistically there’s more overtaking than has ever occurred,” Maffei said at an event hosted by investment company Goldman Sachs.

“The challenge obviously is Max Verstappen is having an unbelievable year, or record-setting year.

“Stefano Domenicali is rightly trying to pivot and say, ‘Come watch this historic event, you’ve never seen success like this, you don’t want to miss it.’ We’ll see if that works.”

If not, Maffei joked, “short of breaking” Verstappen’s leg there’s not much F1 bosses can do to highlight how good the F1 product is. That was in reference to one of ice skating’s darkest moments when Tonya Harding attacked her rival Nancy Kerrigan back in 1994.

“The reality is, we have a very attractive competitive product, other than the fact that Max is that fast,” Maffei continued. “Short of breaking his leg, a la Tonya Harding, I’m not sure what we can do about that!

“But he’s a phenom. He’s driving what seems to be the fastest car and he’s driving it very well. If you look at the lines he’s taking, how aggressive those lines are, but how well he’s able to navigate them. It is truly stunning. And you can see statistically why he is faster than anybody else.”

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Verstappen’s dominance has been a ‘little tough’ on TV numbers

But while Maffei concedes Verstappen’s dominance has been a “little tough” on TV viewership numbers, he insists that’s not the only benchmark with which to judge F1’s popularity.

Maffei acknowledged that TV viewership isn’t the only measure of interest in F1.

“I think you need to look at overall interest in the sport,” he said. “Viewership is a little tough.

“We’ve had many successes this year, I think three of the top four races here in the United States were all this year in terms of viewership, and our average viewership is up year over year.

“But nonetheless, there can be a specific circumstance, like last year Miami was standing alone, this year was up against a Miami Heat game in the [NBA] playoffs. Those particular circumstances can drive viewership of a race.

“If you take the totality of interest as measured by growth, not only in linear TV, but how much we’ve grown Instagram, YouTube views, TikTok views, the amount of interest in the sport has only catapulted greater, much greater than double digits. So I’m convinced our demand is very high.”

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