Flavio Briatore is a huge Max Verstappen fan, but the former F1 team boss is highly critical of how the young prodigy has been treated by the stewards.
Since his arrival at the pinnacle of motorsport in 2015 with Toro Rosso, Verstappen has stunned F1 and its fans with his incredible ability and flamboyant style, which brought him his maiden win last year in his first race with Red Bull Racing at just 18-years-old.
The equally flamboyant Briatore says Verstappen embodies all the values the fans want to see and the sport's stewards should refrain from discouraging his all out and 'no compromise' approach to racing.
"Verstappen is Formula 1's new star," Briatore told French weekly Auto Hebdo.
"He's doing quite well, but they're trying to 'kill' him. It's crazy. If I was running F1, I'd want to see twelve Verstappens on the grid!
"Max is an exceptional driver. He's young, he mocks the system and he overtakes. The public loves those qualities."
The former Benetton and Renault team manager believes more penalties will only make the 20-year-old even more popular.
"The more he'll be penalised, the more the fans will love him. I find it incredible that he gets penalised at every race, or almost.
"F1 is way too controlled. They must give drivers the freedom to fight. It's a big difference with MotoGP. Those guys fight each other wheel to wheel at 300 km/h, and more and more fans are watching them."
Briatore, who guided Michael Schumacher to two world titles, also underlined the talent of another young charger who has caught his expert eye.
"Charles Leclerc. He's real good. If he's managed right, he's got a great future in front of him."