Christian Horner has revealed the one area Max Verstappen isn’t completely at ease with when it comes to Formula 1.
With 19 race wins from 22 races in 2023 en route to a third consecutive World Championship victory, there are very few areas that Max Verstappen isn’t completely in control of everything when it comes to Formula 1.
But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has revealed that the Dutch driver is not completely at ease in his own skin when it comes to his level of fame and worldwide recognition.
Christian Horner: Max Verstappen is a gentle character… out of the car
Speaking on the Secrets of Success podcast, Horner was asked to sum up Max Verstappen as a person – and the team boss revealed his driver isn’t enamoured with being a celebrity.
“Max, as a person, is just a really nice 26-year-old young man,” he said.
“Who is passionate about his racing, and uncomfortable with the level of fame or notoriety that he has now.
“He just wants to do his job and race a car hard, he is very, very straightforward, and very honest. He loves spending time on his PlayStation if he’s not in a race car.
“So, outside of the car, he is quite a gentle character. Inside the car, he’s ruthless. I’ve never met a driver that is as driven as Max – from the moment that he steps into the car, you know that you’re gonna get 110 percent. He will expect 110 percent back – from the moment that that car leaves the garage.”
Horner also revealed that there’s one particular area of Verstappen’s ruthlessness that can be evident from the second he clambers into his Red Bull at the start of a race weekend, and is used as a means to send a message to his rivals.
“It’s interesting, whenever we go to a racetrack, even a new circuit, the first lap of a weekend, in many respects, is meaningless,” he said.
“I will almost put my house on it that the driver that comes out the first lap with the fastest time – sometimes two, three seconds a lot quicker than any other driver – is Max, because it’s a way of him stamping his authority on ‘I’m at one with my car, I’m at the top of my game,’ bang.
“He has the confidence, the ability, the feel, and the technique to be able to do that and to be able to adapt. I think he came into Formula 1 at a very young age as a teenager, having missed – if you like – the training that goes on through the lower formulas. He did that very publicly in an arena where every move that these guys make is is scrutinised and pulled apart.
“I think he came through that and his mental strength, the big game moments, whether it’s qualifying, whether it’s a start, whether it’s an overtake, whether its an outlap, that’s where he’s outstanding.
“I’ve not come across a driver previously with his resilience to be able to deal with pressure at those high-stakes moments.”