Christian Horner: Max Verstappen ‘quite clearly the most talented’ Red Bull driver ever

Henry Valantine
Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. Bahrain March 2022

Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen share a joke. Bahrain March 2022

Christian Horner has declared Max Verstappen as being “quite clearly” the most gifted driver to get behind the wheel of a Red Bull in his time with the team.

Horner was brought in to run the Milton Keynes squad when it became Red Bull Racing in 2005, so he has been present to see how each of the 12 drivers to race for the team over the past 17 years work behind the scenes.

Verstappen wrapped up his second World Championship in dominant fashion at Suzuka last time out, with only four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel having a more successful spell as a Red Bull driver.

Horner highlighted the current champion’s talent above the rest though, despite five other drivers having taken race victories for the team.

Having promoted Verstappen to become Formula 1’s youngest ever driver when he arrived on the grid in 2015, the Red Bull team principal pinpointed one moment with the teenage Dutchman at Toro Rosso that made him take notice.

“What stood out was Spa, when he drove round the outside of Felipe Nasr,” Horner explained in an interview with The Guardian.

“I thought: ‘This boy is properly brave, committed and quick.’ You saw it that season, he was a shining star. It was evident immediately he was a prodigious talent.”

With Daniil Kvyat toiling next to Daniel Ricciardo in the early part of 2016, a swift swap saw Verstappen promoted to the senior team in time for the Spanish Grand Prix – which he went on to win, with a sterling drive to hold off the chasing Kimi Raikkonen behind for his first Formula 1 victory.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, what we witnessed that day was something special,” Horner added.

Having taken 12 wins in 18 races so far in 2022, victory in Austin would draw Verstappen level with the all-time record of most wins in a season by any driver, but Horner says he never rests on his laurels, and that determination pushes him even further forward.

“The great thing is he is just open to pushing himself in all areas, he always feels there’s more to be had,” the Red Bull team boss explained.

“He is quite clearly the most talented driver that I think we have had in one of our cars.”

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