‘Not one ounce’ of Horner wants a repeat of the 2021 title fight

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen as he overtakes Charles Leclerc for the lead. Imola April 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen as he overtakes Charles Leclerc for the lead. Imola April 2022

Christian Horner isn’t even going to pretend he wants a closer title fight after Max Verstappen took another giant leap towards a second World title with a win in Hungary.

The Red Bull driver came from 10th on the grid, survived a mid-race spin, and won the grand prix by 10 seconds over Lewis Hamilton.

The result was even sweeter for Red Bull as the Dutchman’s main title rival, Charles Leclerc, was down in sixth place after yet another dodgy Ferrari strategy call.

It means Leclerc can no longer win the title by himself, he needs Verstappen to drop points.

Even if the Ferrari driver scores maximum points – all nine remaining wins, their fastest lap points and Brazil’s sprint race – he’ll have a total score of 420.

If Verstappen in second in all of those he’ll have 427, taking the title by seven points.

Asked if he wished the competition was closer, Horner replied as per Autosport: “There’s not one ounce of me that wishes that.

“Last year was a heavyweight bout that went 22 rounds. And I’d prefer not to have to go through that again.”

Last season’s title race went down to the final race of the championship, Verstappen winning his first Drivers’ title with a last-lap-of-the-season pass on Lewis Hamilton.

It was a thrilling title fight, the protagonists trading blows and paint as momentum swung between the two.

But while this season is looking a lot simpler for Red Bull and Verstappen, Horner warns anything can still happen.

“The points tables look healthy, and it’s a great way to sign off into the summer break,” he said.

“But there is still a lot of racing to go.

“Ferrari are quick, Mercedes are coming back into the game. There’s still a long, long way to go in this championship, plus a sprint race.

“We don’t take anything for granted. There’s still a lot of racing to do. And they’re very different venues.”

He added: “I think even if we’d won by a lap, I’d still have always been naturally [cautious].

“I would never make a claim that we’re going to finish first and second in the next race.

“It’s the way we go racing. We focus on the here and now and take each race as it comes.”

Verstappen is currently 80 points ahead of Leclerc with Red Bull 97 up on Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.