John Watson

Ulsterman John Watson was the son of a successful car dealer and this funded his early racing career. Good performances in F2 racing and some useful sponsorship saw him enter F1, driving a Brabham in the 1973 British GP. The following year he drove for the Hexagon Brabham team and scored his first point at Monaco.

In 1975 he drove briefly for Surtees before signing up with the Penske team to replace Mark Donohue, who had been killed at the Austrian GP. The following year in Austria Watson gave the team its first and only F1 victory. Penske quit F1 at the end of 1976 and Watson moved on to join Brabham, where he stayed for two seasons.

For 1979 he was recruited by McLaren after its intended signing Ronnie Peterson was killed at the end of the 1978 season. John was to stay at McLaren throughout the changeover of management and when Ron Dennis and John Barnard moved in, Watson began to flourish. He won an emotional victory at the British GP and in 1982 added victories in Belgium and Detroit. That year he finished second to Rosberg in the World Championship. He won again at Long Beach in 1983 but at the end of the year was dropped by McLaren.

After leaving F1 John drove a variety of other machinery in sportscar racing but moved on to work as a TV commentator and running a racing school at Silverstone.