Even though momentum appears to be with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, Christian Horner would have still “bitten your arm off” to be this close to title glory at this late stage of the season.
Max Verstappen’s World Championship lead has been reduced to eight points following successive wins for Hamilton in Brazil and Qatar respectively, while just five points separate leaders Mercedes and Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.
Penning his thoughts in his latest Red Bull column ahead of the last two races of the season, Horner reflected on Red Bull’s current position in amongst all the drama, on and off the track, that has come as a result of this epic title battle.
“Fighting for two world championships is exactly what we’ve worked hard for,” Horner said.
“We’re going into the last few races and it’s extremely close. Max is just eight points ahead in the Drivers’ Championship and five points behind in the Constructors’, in previous years we’d have bitten your arm off to be in this position at this point in the championship.
“We want to be up at the top fighting for titles and while it has been an intense year, the pressure is something we put on ourselves.
“With the benefit of experience, we only worry about the things we can control, rather than the things we can’t, especially while the stakes are high.”
🗣 "It’s going to be interesting and I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s been fun to go to different tracks again this year." @Max33Verstappen ahead of the #SaudiArabianGP 🏁 pic.twitter.com/wGHmaF0dJp
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) November 30, 2021
Some have questioned whether the pressure of battling Mercedes has got the better of Horner, especially after his comments in Qatar where he pointed the finger at a “rogue marshal” for their role in ensuring Max Verstappen had a grid penalty to contend with for failing to respect yellow flags in qualifying.
While Horner apologised for his comments and received an official warning from the FIA, he still feels a high-pressure environment brings out the best in him.
He added: “I have really enjoyed this championship and the fact we’ve been able to take the fight to Mercedes and Lewis, it’s been a phenomenal season to date.
“Some people thrive under pressure and some people shy away from it, but I’ve always felt I have performed at my best under pressure and that doesn’t feel any different to any other campaign.
“Off circuit there has been a bit more distraction, but when the green light comes on, everything else is insignificant.”
Looking ahead to the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Horner’s tentative prediction is that this will be a street circuit that plays to Mercedes’ strengths more than his own team.
“We head to Saudi Arabia for their first race where the track looks insane from I’ve seen,” he said.
“It’s hugely fast and the first sector is like Suzuka, but with walls! It is going to be a massive challenge and I’m sure there will be plenty of excitement and drama.
“We will be watching the Formula 2 race very carefully.
“On paper, it looks like a power-sensitive circuit, so you’d say that tends to favour Mercedes and it looks as though they feel that way too, but you just don’t know.”
How Verstappen can win the title in Saudi Arabia
Max Verstappen could win the title in Saudi Arabia.