Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes Lewis Hamilton will have greater “sway” at Mercedes than team-mate George Russell, as he likened the situation to Max Verstappen’s as a three-time World Champion.
Verstappen is now firmly knocking on the door of the F1 greats conversation after a record-breaking season of dominance in F1 2023, winning a remarkable 19 grands prix out of 22 to blitz his way to a third title in as many years.
Comfortably getting the better of Sergio Perez, a feeling that Verstappen’s team-mates before the Mexican racer were also accustomed to, the 26-year-old has positioned himself as the clear star of the Red Bull driver ranks.
Like Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen ‘privileges’ hinted at
Appearing on the Secrets of Success podcast, Horner had been discussing the “frustrating” public playing out of Brazil 2022, when Verstappen refused to yield P6 to Perez and aid his pursuit of P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, claiming Red Bull knew his reasons.
As Horner explained that the “lesson” learned for Red Bull is that this missed lingering tension should have been cleared beforehand, and not “assumed” that Verstappen would follow the order, Horner was asked whether it is a case of sometimes in teams, the best are allowed to get away with things others may not be allowed to.
Horner agreed with that way of thinking, admitting “certain privileges” are afforded to those bringing home the results, like Verstappen does, though he reckons the same is true at Mercedes with their seven-time World Champion Hamilton.
“It’s inevitable in any sport I would have thought,” Horner replied.
“I mean, Max came to us as a teenager, he’s now a World Champion. I think the same with Lewis Hamilton. He’s now the most successful driver of all time. He will have more sway within his team than his team-mate, because his value to the team is significantly greater.
“And I think that it’s a matter of keeping that in check. Of course, there will be certain privileges that are allowed to your centre forward, your star player, but he’s still part of a team, he still needs to, you know, there’s no room for a prima donna because at that point, it becomes bigger than the team.
“So he can’t achieve what he wants to without having the team behind him, without having the tools. And that’s where it’s a matter of achieving that balance, being respectful of the status that they’ve achieved, but also still recognising you’re part of a team, you need all the other elements to deliver for you to be able to deliver your part.”
Verstappen is under the longest specified driver contract on the Formula 1 grid, his deal keeping him with Red Bull until the end of 2028.
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