Horner on Verstappen’s relentless approach: “He doesn’t want to just win, he wants to dominate.”

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Photo Credits: Oracle Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen is dominating an F1 season once again and after finishing second in Saturday’s Sprint became a 3-time F1 Drivers’ World Champion. Verstappen’s team boss, Christian Horner, wasted no time in singing the praises of Red Bull Racing’s talismanic driver this past Saturday night in Doha. 

As the son of Jos Verstappen (former Benetton and Arrows F1 driver) and with his mother, Sophie Kumpen, being a former kart driver in her own right – Max Verstappen certainly has racing in his DNA. The Dutchman (with a dual Belgian nationality) has been racing since 2002 and became European KZ Champion in June 2013 at Genk (BEL) and then European KF Champion at Ortona (ITA) in July of the same year. Two months later, a 15-year-old Max Verstappen became World Champion at the KZ meeting at Varennes sur Allier (FRA) and in doing so became the youngest driver to win the world title in professional karting. Even before Verstappen made his way to the pinnacle of motorsport, many people wondered what this gifted racer could yet achieve in his career. Now, while working his way through a contract which sees him in F1 for Red Bull Racing through to 2028, he is already a 3-time F1 Drivers’ Champion with the world at his feet.

Red Bull Racing celebrated Verstappen’s latest title which Horner called ‘the most magical feeling’ by having some Red Bulls and non-alcoholic beer and one can imagine that a more extravagant celebration is on the horizon. History books will always attempt to compare eras but it is a wasted task. No real motorsport fan would waste their time trying to compare for example the triumphs of Fangio with that of Ayrton Senna as they are a generation apart in so many ways. However, with Sebastian Vettel having secured his fourth title as recently as 2013, there are those seeking to compare the much-loved German former Red Bull Racer with the team’s current world champion. This question was put to team principal Christian Horner this past Saturday night and as much as comparisons can be drawn they are very different racers as Horner explained in his response. 

“I think the work we achieved with Sebastian was absolutely magical and I think that we never believed we’d see that kind of dominance again and we’ve managed to exceed that with Max. So, you know they’re very different drivers they’re very different people but we’re very privileged within Red Bull Racing to have had two such great drivers,” stated Horner.

It has previously been reported that Christian Horner felt that the Drivers’ title would be headed to his team from as soon as the 4th or 5th race but which race did he feel stood apart from the season. The answer was a recent one and one in which Verstappen dominated having seen his run of victories come to an unexpected end the race weekend before in Singapore.

“I mean there’s been some tricky races that he’s won. I think that the race in Suzuka was outstanding – he was totally dominant.  Zandvoort conditions – you know so many, so many difficult races that he’s managed to navigate his way through so there’s been some big wins this year,” Horner said.

The 2023 F1 season saw Max Verstappen continue to break records, one of which being the most consecutive victories. Having broken that with 10 consecutive triumphs in the pinnacle of motorsport, Horner unsurprisingly lavished praise on his superstar.

“That run of domination, 10 victories in a row, it’s been the most outstanding unbelievable season,”

Having become a two-time F1 Drivers’ Champion, expectation was already high for 2023 but Horner confessed “It exceeded all our expectations.” The reigning champion has many attributes which have seen him reach the top and these were listed by Horner in his recent remarks.

“I think Max is a driver who has continued to evolve he’s continued to grow and the level that he is now operating at the way he’s able to read races the way he’s able to manage tyres, that mental strength that he has in the high-pressure moments is absolutely outstanding.

“His ability to adapt and extract the most out of the car and the confidence he has in himself and the belief and the determination that he has. You see it time and time again whether it’s on an out lap or whether it’s the first lap of the grand prix,  changing conditions, the ability to adapt and be at one with the car is beyond anything we’ve ever seen before,” stated Horner.

Max Verstappen, according to his team boss, is a man who doesn’t leave anything on the table and wants it all. As a result of this, such a desire and mindset inevitably drives and motivates all those in the corridors of Red Bull Racing. Horner told journalists in Qatar how he feels the unrelenting drive Verstappen demonstrates is key to the position he now finds himself in.

“I think that, you know, he is relentless in his pursuit of performance and he doesn’t want to just win he wants to dominate and I think you see that in any great sportsman really. That their pursuit of excellence, their pursuit of not just wanting to beat but to totally dominate the opposition I think is again a hallmark of what makes him you know such an exceptional talent,” concluded Horner.

The partnership between Max Verstappen and his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase is also key to the team’s current success. Lambiase and Verstappen’s radio messages are entertainment all by themself. Horner previously said “the relationship between Verstappen and Lambiase is similar to that of an old married couple arguing about what to watch on television.”

Once again, during Saturday evening’s press conference, the relationship was highlighted again.

“I think with G.P. you hear him struggling to hold onto the reins at times. He’s a thoroughbred racer and he’s strong headed, he’s determined and he’s absolutely committed,”

Self-confidence was also a Verstappen attribute singled out by his team boss and Verstappen certainly looks unbeatable anytime he steps foot in his RB19. However, having secured the title on Saturday, Horner was asked if his driver would now be a little less hungry. The answer of “I think you’ll see him tomorrow going just as hungry for a next success” proved to indeed be the case seeing how 24 hours later Verstappen had been victorious in Sunday’s F1 Qatar GP after winning it by just under 5 seconds.

To conclude the press conference, Horner was unsurprisingly asked whether he feels that his driver could be the greatest and his response was characteristically pragmatic: “I think with his age, what he’s done and achieved in the period that he’s been involved, he’s up there with the very, very best. You know he’s achieving some phenomenal, some exceptional results and as a team we’re extremely proud.”

Having claimed both F1 titles already in 2023, Red Bull’s rivals better not feel there is any chance of Red Bull taking their foot of the gas – for lack of a better phrase – as Horner was very clear that “You’ve always gotta keep moving forward, if you stand still in Formula One you go backwards.”


The only direction Max Verstappen seems headed is forward and if his trajectory continues as recent years then who knows where he could finish in the history books when he finally hands up his gloves.