Horner jokes about Verstappen dominance — “I was surprised it took him so long to get to the front”

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The Max Verstappen era in Formula One continues to grow by the week. On Sunday at the Belgian Grand Prix, the two-time World Champion secured an eighth consecutive victory in 2023.

For once, Verstappen actually faced a brief challenge to his relentless dominance. Starting 6th because of a gearbox penalty, it took Verstappen until lap 9 to get into 2nd. He had to wait until Lewis Hamilton lost DRS to Leclerc to start making moves on both, and they were executed quickly once it happened.

Speaking post-race about Verstappen’s victory, Red Bull team boss talked about the incredible pace his driver displayed after joking about the fact it took the Dutchman until lap 17 to move into P1.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

“I was surprised it took him so long to get to the front, to be honest with you,” Horner quipped.

“All jokes aside, I thought he drove an incredible race today. His pace obviously in the first stint — passing the cars that he did — he did a great job to get up to P2.

“After the stop, his race really came alive on the medium tyre, where he showed incredible speed.

“Obviously Checo didn’t defend too hard because of the speed difference between the two of them.

“Thereafter it was about managing the rest of the race.

“Phenomenal to go into the summer break unbeaten in both Grands Prix and Sprints. I think it’s beyond everybody’s wildest imagination to be sitting in this position now.”

In the opening stint on softs, Pérez really looked strong as he maintained a +2s lead over his stablemate. We looked set for an intriguing battle until the end.

However, once they switched to the medium tyre, it was game over. Verstappen caught Pérez within two laps of pitting and eased by with DRS on the Kemmel straight on lap 17.

Horner was asked why the Mexican struggled more on the yellow marked compound as he crossed the line over 22s behind his teammate at the end.

“Yeah, the first stint was pretty good. I think on the medium tyre Checo definitely wasn’t as comfortable as Max was.

“Then on the soft tyre at the end, it was about managing the little worry we had because the tyres were starting to open up a bit, and we didn’t want to get into too much degradation.

“It was just then about closing out the race.”