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Red Bull: 'Max had respect for him, but he wasn’t in awe of him

Red Bull: 'Max had respect for him, but he wasn’t in awe of him"

21 September - 15:29 Last update: 18:59
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GPblog.com

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fought heated battles in the battle for the world title in 2021. At times, things got pretty rough, both on and off the track (although the latter was mainly more a matter between Red Bull Racing and Mercedes). Christian Horner looks back once more on the season in which Verstappen won his first Formula 1 world championship.

When Horner at Beyond the Grid asked if Max and Lewis got into each other's heads last year, he replied, "I think arguably more so in Lewis’ head, because he’s a seven-time world champion… he has everything to lose. Max is the young kid that’s taking the risks, that’s throwing everything at it and has got nothing to lose," Horner interjected. Verstappen himself spoke similar words several times in the weeks before and after his first title.

Verstappen excels

Verstappen made a big impression with the RB16B last season. In 22 Grand Prix weekends, he managed to cross the line first ten times. He also took ten pole positions. Yet the 24-year-old driver also had to fight hard in races to get past Mercedes or, on the contrary, defend the leading position. Horner saw a Verstappen who was the best version of himself.

"Some of his overtaking last year was stunning and you felt that started to rattle Lewis. You definitely saw when Lewis qualified on pole at Silverstone and Max won the sprint race, he was a bit broken after the sprint race. Had Max made it through Copse, I don’t think he would have seen him again after that. So there was an air of desperation building as well. It was high-stakes stuff and the emotions run high," said the Red Bull team boss.

Respect for Hamilton

Emotions ran high, as mentioned above, but that does not mean the rivals do not respect the other's performance. Horner emphasises the same in the podcast. "You can’t not respect everything Lewis has done and achieved, it’s quite remarkable and maybe never to be bettered. But everybody is beatable at some point in time and Max had respect for him, but he wasn’t in awe of him. He wasn’t afraid of them, he relished going up against him and the opportunity to go wheel-to-wheel racing with him. He believed that he could beat him, and it was that inner belief and self-confidence that we saw on so many occasions come through.”

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