Red Bull will keep Verstappen ‘in a bubble’ at home F1 race

In 2021, Verstappen entered his first Dutch GP trailing World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton by three points as their tense title battle continued to escalate.

This time around the situation is very different, with Verstappen currently 93 points ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez, and 98 above Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc.

Despite the seemingly comfortable cushion on Leclerc, Horner says that neither the team nor its driver can afford to kick back and soak up the atmosphere.

“I think you have to keep up the pressure, because as soon as you don’t, you start making mistakes,” he said when asked by Autosport if Verstappen might enjoy this weekend more than he did last year.

“So we will be approaching Zandvoort in exactly the same discipline as we have done every Grand Prix so far this year, and there are no extra activities for Max, compared to a standard Grand Prix weekend.

“Of course there will be a lot of noise on the circuit, but we will try to keep it within a bubble, obviously within the team, and we will try to manage expectations.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12 and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

He added: “Obviously there will be a lot of anticipation for Max when he gets back there as the world champion, with the number one on the car. We saw the atmosphere last year, and I think it’s only going to intensify again this year.”

Despite a healthy lead over Leclerc – almost the equivalent of four race wins with just eight rounds to go – Horner played down Toto Wolff’s suggestion that Verstappen will secure the title soon.

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“I think, as far as the championship tables go, they obviously look very healthy,” Horner said. “But things can change very, very quickly.

“We saw that, I think we were 46 points behind coming out of Australia, and in a couple of races we managed to turn that around.

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“So our prerogative is on each race, one at a time and the championship tables will take care of themselves. So we just want to keep this momentum moving forward.”

Horner insisted that Verstappen is driving even better in 2022 than when he secured his first title last season.

“I think that Max, since winning that championship last year, has taken another step forward. In many ways he has set him free, and he is driving at an incredible level.

“I think given his age and experience, what we’re seeing at the moment is exactly that, you’re looking at a driver who is completely attached to a car and who is at an absolutely purple point in his career.

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