Christian Horner was asked about what similarities he sees between Max Verstappen and Michael Schumacher, with the current dominant force in Formula 1 being increasingly compared to another stint in years gone by.
Schumacher and Ferrari were at the top of the tree in the early 2000s, with the German winning five of his seven titles consecutively from 2000 to 2004, and Verstappen took his second title last year with a record 15 wins in a single season.
He’s currently on 13 victories for the year in 2023 with six rounds to go, and could wrap up a third World Championship in Qatar next time out.
Christian Horner: Max Verstappen channels ‘inner hunger’ on track
Given the way in which Verstappen is steamrolling the opposition, in a not-too-dissimilar way to how Schumacher managed it at his peak, the question came to the Red Bull team principal about how the two compare.
“I think he’s just got this inner hunger and determination and huge ability,” Horner told media in Japan when asked about the parallels he can see between Verstappen and the German great.
“He channels it and he doesn’t get distracted by some of the trappings of Formula 1, he’s just an out and out racer.
“You know, if he’s not racing in the real world, he’s racing in the virtual world – and that’s his passion. That’s what he wants to do.”
One area in which Schumacher and Verstappen do differ, however, is their response to the statistical world of Formula 1.
While Schumacher became emotional at matching the pole tally of the great Ayrton Senna, breaking down in tears after responding “it does mean a lot to me” when the subject was brought up, Verstappen’s approach is much less numbers-orientated.
He has been open in saying on multiple occasions that statistics are not his motivator in Formula 1, insisting that he has no intent on deliberately staying in the sport to match Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton’s record of seven World Championships.
Horner backed this up, when asked about how he sees the number of records that he is rapidly breaking.
“I’m not sure he focuses too much on that,” Horner said.
“They mean a great deal to him when he was achieves them, but it’s not dictating his approach.
“He’s a winner and he loves winning, and you could see that competitive spirit at its absolute utmost this weekend from lap one in P1.”