Max Verstappen Talks TAG Heuer: A Racing Alliance Lasting 8 Years

Ahead of last month’s Chinese Grand Prix, Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen and TAG Heuer, the team’s sponsor, delved into the fascinating connections between speed, time, and motor racing. TAG Heuer, known for its Swiss precision, has left an indelible mark in the racing world, especially within Formula 1. 

TAG Heuer’s racing heritage traces back to visionary Jack Heuer, great-grandson of the company’s founder Edouard Heuer. Jack, a racing enthusiast, masterminded iconic watches associated with motorsport, including the Carrera and the square Monaco. His passion for precision and performance laid the foundation for TAG Heuer’s enduring commitment to motor racing.

At a recent Shanghai convention, Prestige spoke to Verstappen to ask his thoughts on the brand: “Time is very important for a driver, whether on and off track,” he says. “We’re always fighting for tenths of a second, and we live by a strict schedule in Formula 1. Of course, being partners with TAG Heuer, you get even more influenced by time.”

TAG Heuer’s involvement in timing instruments dates back over a century. In the 1890s, they crafted chronograph stopwatches for early racing events. Notably, in 1911, they introduced the first dashboard-mounted chronograph, followed by the micrograph capable of measuring 1/100th of a second – crucial for circuit racing. The ’50s marked a pivotal period when Heuer shifted focus exclusively to chronograph watches, firmly anchoring motor racing at the heart of the brand. Their sponsorship of Swiss driver Jo Siffert in 1968 was historic, making TAG Heuer the first luxury brand to sponsor Formula motor racing in 1971.

Max Verstappen, who joined forces with TAG Heuer at 18, understands the significance of time both on and off the track. As a Formula 1 driver, he lives by strict schedules, constantly chasing tenths of a second. His favorite TAG Heuer timepiece, a skeletonized Monaco in Red Bull colors, exemplifies the fusion of style and precision. Verstappen’s influence extends beyond the racetrack, shaping the partnership between TAG Heuer and Red Bull Racing.

Speaking at the convention, the brand's heritage director, Nicholas Biebuyck, stated:

“It’s interesting with Red Bull, because when we formed the partnership with them in 2016, the team weren’t that successful,” the heritage director explains, despite the Austrian team winning four back-to-back championships with Sebastian Vettel from 2010 to 2013. “They were really struggling after those years of success, so everyone was surprised by our decision to work with them. But the fact is, there’s a spirit to Red Bull, one that’s very different from other teams. They’re not a traditional car manufacturer, they’re an energy drinks company. You’d think: what right does an energy drink company have to not only compete in Formula 1 but be winning? But their attitude in doing business, the way to innovate and the way they build their talent – all of these things come together and very well reflect who we are at TAG Heuer. It’s been a great partnership and we’re very lucky to have them.”

“When we first partnered with the team, it was just a bet, but now it’s become one of the most successful partnerships we have,” echoes Tornare. “People see TAG Heuer cars and TAG Heuer drivers winning all the time, so for us it’s brilliant in terms of awareness and desirability. But it also speaks for our mindset: drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez and the whole team operate seamlessly, like an orchestra, and that’s very much what we do at TAG Heuer too.”

Undeterred by his second-place finish at the Miami Grand Prix earlier this month, where McLaren’s Lando Norris secured his maiden win just seconds ahead of Verstappen, the Red Bull driver maintains unwavering confidence in his team, his car, and his own driving prowess. When questioned about the season’s prospects, Verstappen responds with the unwavering conviction befitting a three-time world champion who appears poised for a fourth title.