Christian Horner has admitted Red Bull’s F1 2023 title triumph with Max Verstappen has “surpassed” the team’s success with Sebastian Vettel a decade ago.
Verstappen clinched his third successive World Championship in the Qatar Grand Prix sprint race on Saturday to cap a stunning season in which he set a new record of 10 straight wins between Miami and Monza.
The Dutchman is only the second driver in history to win all of his first three titles in consecutive seasons, with Vettel the first to do so during a run of four straight triumphs with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.
Max Verstappen surpasses Vettel success in Red Bull’s eyes
Horner, Red Bull team principal since the team arrived on the grid in 2005, oversaw the success of both Vettel and Verstappen and believes the newly crowned three-time World Champion has reached “yet another level” in 2023.
And he believes Verstappen, who only turned 26 last month, will only continue to get better despite already joining some of the greatest drivers in F1 history.
He told Sky F1: “It’s been by far the most dominant [title-winning season for Red Bull] and so it’s come as no surprise, but to see Max join some of the great names – [Jack] Brabham, [Ayrton] Senna, [Nelson] Piquet, [Niki] Lauda, Sir Jackie Stewart – he’s in that bracket now.
“The way he’s driven this year has just been out of this world and I think you have to take a moment to reflect, you’ve got to be in the moment, and everything that he’s done this year has been phenomenal.
“I just think the whole team as well, the way they’ve galvanised and are working so well together – not just here but all the unsung heroes back in the factory, across all the 22 different departments that make up our team – this is the culmination of that.
“I think he’s the most competitive driver that I’ve ever met. I think the determination that he drives with, the passion, the heart, the commitment – and of course the abundance of skill that he has – is up there with the very, very best [and] some of the greatest the sport has seen.
“I think that this season has just surpassed anything we’ve ever seen. We did a lot of winning with Sebastian, but this has taken it to yet another level – and he’s only 26.
“I think he’s still going to get better, I think he’s still going to evolve and I think he’s still going to grow as a driver.”
Asked to identify Verstappen’s greatest quality as a driver, Horner pointed to his self-confidence and consistency marks him out as a special talent.
He explained: “I just think the self belief, the self-confidence he has to go out and nail it to go out and deliver.
“We’ve seen it in the wet, we’ve seen it on out laps, we’ve seen it in changing conditions – it’s just quite, quite outstanding and I think that, for me, is the biggest thing.
“His ability to be at one with the car and the confidence in himself and the self belief is something that I think is absolutely standout.”