Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen shares the same “huge hunger and determination” as the greatest F1 drivers in history – including Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton.
Having clinched his third consecutive World Championship earlier this month, Verstappen has established himself as one of the best drivers ever seen in F1.
The 26-year-old set a new record by claiming a 16th victory of the 2023 season at last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix and has now won 41 of the last 63 races stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season in 2021.
How does Max Verstappen compare to Lewis Hamilton?
Horner, who also oversaw Sebastian Vettel’s run of four straight titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013, believes Verstappen has the same traits as some of the most successful athletes in sport.
He said: “I think all the greats had a huge hunger and determination.
“Whether it’s in Formula 1 or in any sport you have to have that burning desire from within and when you look at some of the legends in this sport, whether it’s the [Ayrton] Sennas or whether it’s currently the Hamiltons or any of the drivers that have gone before.
“Going back through all of the ages – back to the [Jim] Clarks, the [Jackie] Stewarts, the [Juan Manuel] Fangios – they all had an inner drive and an inner belief and I think that we saw that in Sebastian, who also was hugely competitive [and] didn’t want to leave anything on the table.
“I think Max even takes that to another level. He’s not obsessive in chasing records or statistics – although he knows more than you think – but he has an inner desire, an inner belief, an inner hunger that drives him.
“If you look across some of the greats across many sports, you see that as a common trait.”
Horner regards Verstappen’s “inner desire” as central to his success, pointing to his victory from sixth on the grid at the recent United States GP as evidence that the Dutchman has developed into a complete racing driver.
“He’s an out-and-out racer,” Horner explained.
“He just wants to race and whether it’s racing grand prix cars or racing online, he’s hugely competitive, hugely hungry.
“He doesn’t want to leave anything on the table, whether it’s a sprint race, whether it’s a grand prix, whether it’s a qualifying session and the one thing that he certainly doesn’t lack is motivation in any way, shape or form.
“I think it’s that inner desire that really, really drives him. You see it in his driving, time and time again, and I think he’s now coupled that with experience, that it doesn’t all have to be done on the first lap.
“I think his race in Austin was excellent, the way that he managed the tyres, the strategy and the passes when he needed to make [them] was absolutely decisive.”
On the day Verstappen secured his third title in the Qatar sprint race, Horner claimed that his 2023 season has transcended what Red Bull previously achieved during Vettel’s period of dominance.
He said: “I think that this season has just surpassed anything we’ve ever seen. We did a lot of winning with Sebastian, but this has taken it to yet another level – and he’s only 26.
“I think he’s still going to get better, I think he’s still going to evolve and I think he’s still going to grow as a driver.”