Horner revels in Max’s P2 finish: ‘It felt like a win’

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, prepares for the Russian GP. September 2021.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, in the paddock prior to the Russian Grand Prix. September 2021.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner saw Max Verstappen recover to P2 at the Russian Grand Prix, which for him felt like the race win.

Starting from the back after an engine penalty, Verstappen went into the Russian GP with the aim of limiting the damage that title rival Lewis Hamilton could inflict.

And it was looking like a solid points finish for the Dutchman, while Hamilton harried leader Lando Norris to snatch the 25 points for a race victory.

A late, heavy downpour completely changed the situation of the race though, and making an early call to switch to intermediate tyres, Verstappen was ultimately rewarded with a P2 finish.

Hamilton did go on to win the race, the 100th victory of his career, and in the process maintaining Mercedes’ 100% win record in Sochi.

But for Horner, that Verstappen P2 was as good as a victory, and now Red Bull’s lead driver heads to Turkey only two points adrift of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Asked by Sky F1 about that move to fit inters, Horner said: “You can look a hero or zero at the end of it, it is a really tough.

“Max made a call today and he got it right, Checo [Sergio Perez] decided to stick thinking that he might be able to get through it and that was the wrong decision.

“It could have gone either way. Max benefitted massively, Checo lost out significantly, so for Max in the Drivers’ it is damage limitation which is fantastic, for the Constructors’ obviously we have conceded points.

“Max nailed it, he called it right, and was able to make it stick. To come from 20th to P2, I think if you would have offered us that at the beginning of the day, we would have absolutely taken it.


“The last two venues we knew Mercedes historically have been very very strong.

“I have to say congrats to Lewis on his centenary of wins which is insane, but for us to come away from here only two points behind in the Drivers’ Championship, with an engine penalty taken, the engine in the pool, that is great news.

“It feels like a victory for us today, to go from 20th to P2 with the engine penalty, and the grid penalty, I don’t think we could have expected more than that this morning.

“Max was confident going into the race, but we thought top five might be possible, so to come away with that podium, that is hugely valuable.”