|1975||Surtees, Team Lotus, Penske||13||13||0||0||8||8||0||0||6||0||0||0||-|
|First race||British Grand Prix||Silverstone||July 14, 1973||Race results|
|Last race||European Grand Prix||Brands Hatch||October 6, 1985||Race results|
John Watson's early career was funded by his father who was a car dealer in Ulster, but after showing his potential in Formula 2, he was able to raise his own finance which opened the door to a long and successful career in Formula One.
He made the first of his 152 F1 starts in 1973 but he only gained a regular drive the following year when he was signed by the Hexagon Brabham team where he finished the season with three top-six results. In 1975 he drove for three teams - primarily Surtees - but his breakthrough came in 1976 with the Penske team where thirds in France and Great Britain preceded his first and the team's only F1 win in Austria.
Penske quit F1 at the end of the season and Watson drove for Brabham for two years - with seven top-six finishes in 1978 - before finding a more permanent home with McLaren in 1979. It was there his career really took off as Ron Dennis and John Barnard took charge.
In 1982 he won the British Grand Prix and finished six in the drivers' championship; the following year he came third, boosted by wins in Belgium and Detroit. In 1983, his ambitions affected by the return of Niki Lauda to the team, he slipped to sixth in the championship with only three podiums and one win. He also made what Dennis considered an unreasonable contractual demand, resulting in him being employed on a race-by-race basis. It was not overly surprising when at the end of the season he was released by McLaren who signed up Alain Prost after his sacking by Renault. Watson's final win at Long Beach was nevertheless impressive as he came from 22nd on the grid - his victory in Detroit the previous year had been from 17th.
Unable to find another drive, he retired at the end of the year but made a brief return for McLaren to replace the injured Lauda at the 1985 European Grand Prix where he finished seventh. He made a small piece of history as it was the only time since 1975 that a non world champion had raced in the No. 1 numbered car.
Watson continued to race sports cars and when he quit the sport for good he moved into TV commentary as well as running a race school at Silverstone
Martin Williamson November 2009