Christian Horner target of Red Bull ridicule as Max Verstappen tried to force ‘uncomfortable’ situation

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull's Christian Horner at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Red Bull's Christian Horner at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner had Max Verstappen’s race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase “taking the mickey” out of him in Spa as he ruled against a fastest lap attempt.

Verstappen once more was Formula 1’s unstoppable force at Spa-Francorchamps, winning the Belgian Grand Prix from P6 on the grid, following a five-place grid drop for a new gearbox, with his final margin of victory over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez standing at over 22 seconds.

With Verstappen having also claimed victory in the sprint a day prior to add to that one-two, it was another highly-productive outing for the runaway Championship leaders, but could they have gotten even more out of it?

Christian Horner withstands goading on Max Verstappen fastest lap

Verstappen claimed 25 points for his Belgian GP victory, though it was not the maximum of 26 as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton would snatch the fastest lap and bonus point which comes with it from Verstappen on his final tour of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

But, while Lambiase was having a bit of fun with Horner for not wanting Verstappen to be allowed to respond to that, the team boss explained that he did not want to put what was already going to be a solid result in “jeopardy”.

Suggested by Sky F1 that he didn’t fancy a Verstappen fastest lap bid then, Horner replied: “No, I could see what was going on and GP was taking the mickey out of me saying ‘why not?’

“And I think we’ve done enough this weekend, the sprint race, a one-two finish, I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise that signing-off into the summer break.

“Plus the fact it was a pretty high marker that Max put down on what was supposed to be a gentle out-lap!”

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Such examples of speed had led to some further squabbles in-race between Verstappen and his engineer ‘GP’, who was calling on the Championship leader to think of the long game and keep his tyres in good shape.

Verstappen at one stage would joke that maybe instead he could unleash the performance to stretch his lead, and then give Red Bull some extra “pit-stop practice”.

He would explain to Sky F1 after the race that he just wanted to have some fun with his team, knowing that the idea of adding an extra pit stop to the plan makes them “uncomfortable”.

“I know that they don’t like to do an extra pit stop, so I just want to make them a little uncomfortable, maybe that they might think I’m going to push it to do another stop,” he stated.

Verstappen’s lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship over Perez now stands at a whopping 125 points.

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