Stewart: Verstappen can ‘shake things up’ in F1 like Mario Andretti

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Formula 1 legend Jackie Stewart has compared Max Verstappen’s breakthrough to that of Mario Andretti, saying the Dutchman livened up an otherwise-uneventful 2016 season.

Verstappen became the youngest race winner in F1 history at the Spanish Grand Prix in May following his shock promotion to Red Bull just four races into the season.

Verstappen ended the year fifth in the drivers’ standings, but was regarded as the stand-out driver of the season by many following a string of outstanding on-track displays.

Speaking to Swiss newspaper Blick, three-time F1 champion Stewart spoke about the personalities currently present in the sport, with Verstappen reminding him of Andretti, Jochen Rindt and Tyrrell teammate Francois Cevert.

“Lewis Hamilton is a kind of modern hero, [Sebastian] Vettel is a quiet hero,” Stewart said.

“[Kimi] Raikkonen is perhaps even more popular than those two, although he barely says anything or perhaps he’s popular precisely because of it!

“Verstappen reminds me of the first races of Mario Andretti, Jochen Rindt and Francois Cevert. They all managed to shake things up.

“Other than Verstappen’s breakthrough, it was not a very interesting season.”

Stewart believes that F1 needs more unpredictable incidents on-track to be more exciting, with reliability levels in the sport’s modern era running at a high rate.

“It’s missing excitement, incidents, failures and accidents,” Stewart said.

“Don’t get me wrong, nobody wants to see a driver crash, but you want some excitement.

“In my day that was the case, but unfortunately many of my rivals paid the ultimate price for that.”