Horner hails “very special” and F1 record equalling Verstappen as he “never buckled under pressure”

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Photo credits: Oracle Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing are having a phenomenal season. The two-time F1 Drivers’ Champion claimed his third home victory in as many years when he crossed the finish line. Not only this but doing so meant Verstappen had won a ninth Grands Prix in a row and tied the record set by Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner reflected on this feat during a post-race media session this past Sunday in Zandvoort.


Sunday’s rain affected Dutch Grand Prix will live long in the memory for many race fans. When the race turned into a six-lap sprint after a late red flag had been brought out due to heavy rainfall, the question was posed as to whether the current Champion would in fact not win his history levelling race – despite having dominated the event. However, with Max Verstappen remaining calm under pressure, a ninth consecutive victory came his way and with it a lead in the 2023 F1 Drivers’ Championship of 138 points. 


Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner reflected on Verstappen’s achievement in his post-race remarks to select media as well as the impact the weather had.


“Well, it certainly put up some challenges not only today but yesterday in qualifying. I think that the team, Max and Checo today have really delivered across all conditions. To have achieved 9 victories with Sebastian was very special, something I never thought we would end up repeating and so to be sitting here with Max having replicated what Sebastian did ten years ago is, you know, it’s very special. Very special for him, very special for the whole team and we had a few challenges to master this race,” said Horner.


Christian Horner also took a moment to recall a couple of points from the weekend which stood out to him: “There was the first lap in Q1 where he went off at Turn 1 and then he got blocked on the next lap. There’s a black cloud coming. There’s a lot of drivers that would have buckled under the pressure and he didn’t. And then again, having emerged from the pits behind a lot of cars and having to come through the way he did, there’s a lot of drivers that would have buckled under that pressure. He kept his head and he was phenomenal.”


This was a race weekend which had everything, and Christian Horner was aware “today, there were so many things that could go wrong.”

Max Verstappen will regularly say that he does not feel different pressure at his home race and that he just wants to put on a good show and try his best. However, as the Dutchman had been shaking hands with Dutch Royalty prior to the race this was certainly no ordinary race day. Even more impressive then, that Max Verstappen could handle the occasion, the conditions and the delays – and still come out on top.


“I think that, you know quietly, he’s very proud of what he’s doing and achieving,” claimed Horner. “The record that Sebastian did in in 2013…I mean to win nine in a row is insane, and so to have done it in the same team with another driver, it’s something that I don’t think any of us could have ever envisaged.


“I think that Max is in a period of his career where he’s just simply untouchable and I don’t think there’s any driver on the grid that would be able to achieve what he’s been doing in that car.


“Being his team-mate is probably, in some respects, the most unenviable job to have because the barometer is so high. It’s very, very difficult and I think what we’re witnessing at the moment is a driver that is generational. His feel, his confidence, commitment is great to witness and be part of,” proclaimed Horner.


As much as Max Verstappen is on top of his game – so too are the Red Bull Racing mechanics. They were certainly put to use during Sunday’s race, and this was not lost on Horner. 


“We’ve done eight pit stops today and the team nailed every one of them – other than the one that Checo gave us about 5 seconds notice. So, it’s been an incredible team performance. I think, the most impressive thing for me this weekend is just, you guys have seen all of the pressure that Max is under and the expectation of 100,000 Dutchies here – a lot would have cracked under that pressure today. He kept his composure and delivered as he’s done so many times,” stated the man in charge of Red Bull Racing’s double title challenge.


Sebastian Vettel’s history making 2013 season in which he recorded his nine consecutive victories also saw him win 13 Grand Prix victories in total. Max Verstappen has another 9 Grands Prix race weekends to come in 2023.


Max Verstappen’s run of victories will of course end one day but what the Red Bull Racing’s talismanic driver is achieving is indeed remarkable. To borrow a famous phrase said by Sebastian Vettel back in his historic 2013 season – ‘We have to remember these days’ and one can imagine that Red Bull Racing will be sure to enjoy them while they last.