Christian Horner believes winning the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship has “liberated” Max Verstappen, but the Dutchman disagrees.
Verstappen claimed his first F1 title at the Abu Dhabi final in 2021, in controversial circumstances after a late safety car restart, and looks set to double his tally in 2022, enjoying a 93-point lead with just eight rounds to go. the end.
Red Bull boss Horner was impressed with his driver’s dominance at the Belgian Grand Prix, but was contradicted by Verstappen after the race.
Verstappen “next level” – Horner
Since the start of the 2021 season, Verstappen has only failed to finish first or second eight times, including five DNFs, one third and points with damaged cars on two occasions.
He has taken 20 wins, and with nine in 2022, he is on course to break the all-time record for wins in a single season, currently 13 held by Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013).
And Horner believes his primary driver is operating on a higher plane now that he has a championship in the bag.
“I think Max, since he won that championship last year, has taken another step forward,” he told the media, including RacingNews365.com.
“It has liberated him in many ways and he is driving at an incredible level.
“As for the championship tables, they obviously look very healthy.
“If we look at his age and his experience, we are now looking at a driver who is completely one with the car and better than ever.”
Despite Horner’s praise, Verstappen was quick to refute that the 2021 title had “liberated” him.
“No, the title didn’t set me free,” he responded when presented with Horner’s comments.
“It’s just experience and you also feel more comfortable in the car.
“It’s also a bit better compared to last year, overall the car was good, but Mercedes was stronger and then you had to drive a bit more on the limit, and now everything is a bit closer. Award winner explained.
“Every year you get new experience, but you can’t really compare this year and last year – the cars are completely different to race.
“Last year, Mercedes were stronger at this point in the year, but they didn’t always get the most out of the car.
“However, as a team, we have always performed well, but again: you can’t compare the years.”