Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen’s achievements don’t get the credit they deserve amid what he describes as a “perfect” season from the Dutchman.
Verstappen won the Mexico City Grand Prix to set a new record for number of victories and points scored in a season, with two races still to go. One of the drivers he moved clear of was Sebastian Vettel who also set his record with Red Bull, and Horner says Verstappen’s performances and results aren’t getting the recognition they should.
“They’re two very different drivers, two phenomenally successful drivers,” Horner said. “What Sebastian has achieved in his career puts him amongst the greats and most successful drivers in the sport, but Max, what we’re seeing this year, we’re actually witnessing something very special.
“I sometimes think that his achievements perhaps don’t receive the plaudits that they should, because I think actually what we’ve witnessed is an absolutely outstanding performance from a driver that’s very much at the top of his game.
“Max has broken the record for points, I think the most laps led as well… It’s been a phenomenal year for him. Still two races and a Sprint race to go so we’re hopeful that we can keep this momentum going to the checkered flag in Abu Dhabi.”
Horner believes Verstappen has put together the most dominant season he has seen from one driver, after wrapping up the championship with four rounds to spare in Japan.
“There’s been years of domination with Mercedes, but I think as an individual driver, probably yes. He’s won the most grands prix in a year now, within 21 races, on top of that he’s won two Sprint races, and he’s not won all of them from pole position — he’s had to fight and race for a lot of those victories.
“So I think when we look back at the end of the year, it is an absolutely outstanding year that Max has driven. He hasn’t put a wheel wrong, he’s been perfect throughout the season — it’s incredible the level of consistency that he’s been able to achieve.”
One area in particular where Horner feels Verstappen doesn’t get enough credit is when it comes to his tire management, having cruised to victory on what looked to be a marginal one-stop strategy in Mexico.
“When you see how he is playing with the tools that he has available to him within the car, he’s constantly on top of them. You hear the banter between him and his engineer — he’s got a tremendous feel for what the tires need and don’t need. I think it’s something that he’s developed; he’s always been strong at it but I think this year he’s been exceptional.”