‘Psychological games leave Verstappen cold’

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen holding a Dutch flag in celebration. Netherlands September 2021

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen holding a Dutch flag in celebration after winning the Dutch Grand Prix. Netherlands September 2021

Christian Horner has told Lewis Hamilton not to bother playing mind games with Max Verstappen, they leave him “cold”.

This year Formula 1 is witnessing a thrilling battle for the Drivers’ Championship title, one that looks set to go down to the final chequered flag of the season.

Verstappen and Hamilton are separated by a slender two points in the reigning World Champion’s favour with Verstappen having more wins, seven to five, but also more retirements.

Following his most recent DNF, a crash with Hamilton at Monza, the Mercedes driver said he felt Verstappen was feeling the pressure.

Horner says that’s not true.

Speaking about the Russian GP, a race in which Verstappen stormed from P20 to P2, the team boss told ServusTV: “We still have seven races and we need a lot of points for both drivers to be able to catch up.

“Max has the ability to deal with the pressure, we saw that at Zandvoort [Verstappen’s home race]. He was also extremely impressive in Austria.

“Max is not distracted by anything, the psychological games leave him cold.”

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Verstappen put in arguably one of his best drivers of the season at the Russian Grand Prix, racing from 20th on the grid to the podium.

The Dutchman started the race at the very back of the field after being hit with an engine penalty having taken his fourth PU of the season.

Horner revealed that Red Bull had considered changing Verstappen’s power unit at the Belgian Grand Prix, Spa a track were drivers can overtake, but decided against it.

It proved to be a good call.

“We deliberately accepted the penalty in Sochi,” he said.

“It was a very important result for Max and a great grand prix. With his experience and talent, he made the most of the race. You couldn’t ask for more.

“At Spa-Francorchamps, we were already wondering whether we should change the engine. Luckily we didn’t because of the rain on Sunday.”


With Red Bull 33 points behind Mercedes in the race for the Constructors’ Championship, the team could yet secure their first double since 2013.

Horner says his driver is ready, and so is the team.

“Max is driving better than ever and is now ready for the title,” he added.

“The team is motivated. This battle is great fun for everyone. In the factory you can feel this electrifying tension, it’s contagious.”


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