'Exciting' Verstappen has turned perception of F1 on its head - Herbert


Exciting youngsters like Max Verstappen have turned the perception of F1 being predictable "on its head", according to former driver Johnny Herbert.

Verstappen, 19, has been a refreshing addition to the F1 grid since his grand prix debut with Toro Rosso in Australia in March 2015, impressing with his aggressive and bold driving style and earning a move to Red Bull.

The Dutchman wowed spectators during the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, climbing from 16th to claim a podium finish in the rain, with many labelling it as one of the greatest drives in F1 history.

That stunning display helped him to a total of 78 overtaking manoeuvres in the 2016 season, the highest since records began in 1983.

And Herbert believes that the exuberance of younger drivers like Verstappen, who finished fifth in the overall standings, has silenced the argument that F1 is predictable and monotonous.

Herbert told Omnisport: "I think what's been refreshing in all this talk over the last couple of years, Max Verstappen turns up and basically turns it all on its head.

"You're still able to wrestle that car to get the best from it. That's what's exciting.

"The corporate element is different, yes, that's something that over the years has become an important part of it.

"But the pure essence of it is still exactly the same. We are still seeing special, rare drivers come into effect.

"Unfortunately they are not 24 like I was, they are teenagers now, but I think that's just the nature of sport in general. The information is out there for them to absorb and use it on track."

Herbert also spoke about development, suggesting the combination of stricter safety regulations and drivers learning their trade in different formats of the sport is helping to make life easier.

"We've seen what Max has been able to do over the last couple of seasons, but particularly this season with Red Bull," he added. "It is a journey for them that has been quite easy, in one regard.

"They've done their karting, Formula Three, got to Formula One, but the safety aspects are now completely different to back then in the late 80s, early 80s.

"The 70s - we know about the Jackie Stewart years when there was a death more or less every single grand prix.

"Safety has been a big part of this new Formula One. Yes, we do have these unfortunate freaky incidents like we had with Jules Bianchi a couple of years back.

"But the youngsters are coming through in an era where safety is fantastic, from the facilities around the race track, to the safety within the actual car."