Max Verstappen gets the Christian Horner treatment after ‘taking so long’ to lead

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Max Verstappen before the Hungarian GP. Hungaroring July 2022.

Red Bull's Christian Horner and Max Verstappen talk on the grid before the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungaroring July 2022.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner joked he was surprised it took Max Verstappen “so long to get to the front” in Belgium.

Red Bull’s runaway Championship leader launched from P6 on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps, having dominated qualifying but dropping five places on the grid for taking a new gearbox.

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher and Sam Cooper

By lap 17 of the Belgian GP though Verstappen was re-claiming his familiar P1 spot, passing Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez and going on to win by a margin of over 22 seconds.

Christian Horner jokingly wonders what took Max Verstappen so long

Such is Verstappen’s unrelenting dominance in the world of Formula 1, that Belgian GP win his eighth in a row and 10th of the F1 2023 season, Horner decided to poke fun at the fact it took him 17 laps to take the lead.

With his serious hat on though, Horner hailed the way Verstappen “came alive” on the medium tyre for his second stint and left Perez without great desire to defend the lead such was the pace difference.

“Surprised it took him [Verstappen] so long to get to the front to be honest with you!” Horner joked when speaking to media including

“But no, honestly, all jokes aside, I thought he drove an incredible race today.

“His pace in the first stint, passing the cars that he did, he did a great job to get up to P2.

“And then after the stop his race really came alive on the medium tyre where he showed incredible, incredible speed.

“And Checo didn’t defend too hard because of the speed difference between the two of them, and thereafter it’s about managing the rest of the race.

“So phenomenal to go into the summer break unbeaten in both grands prix and sprints and I think it’s beyond everybody’s wildest imagination to be sitting in this position now.” recommends

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Verstappen’s progress to the front actually was slower than many had expected, Horner explaining that the Dutchman was in the early stages of the race stuck in a ‘DRS train’, with Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes boasting strong straight-line pace.

Once Hamilton dropped out of DRS range from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ahead though, the door opened for Verstappen.

“He was at the back of a ‘DRS train’, so once Lewis dropped out of Charles’s DRS he was able to pick him off reasonably easy,” said Horner, “and then Charles only a few laps later.

“You could see Lewis had set his car up particularly for straight-line speed this weekend, so that made it a little complicated in the first few laps.”

Verstappen is now 125 points clear of Perez at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.

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