Max Verstappen has “been on another planet” after his performance to become two-time Formula 1 world champion, says the Red Bull team principal.
Last weekend in Suzuka, he secured his second consecutive title in surprising circumstances. Verstappen narrowly won the Japanese Grand Prix, where full points were unexpectedly awarded.
He won his first title in a controversial final in Abu Dhabi last year. “A championship is a championship winner,” Horner said following another unusual title-fight finish, but added: “I think the blood pressure is lower for this one than in Abu Dhabi.”
“But that’s all,” he continued. “Max was world champion last year, carrying that number one on his car, he’s driven with that kind of conviction this year and retained his championship like that. I am excited to see him reach another level this year,” he said.
Verstappen retired from two of the first three races due to technical problems, allowing rival Charles Leclerc to build a huge championship lead. But Verstappen quickly overtook him and quickly pulled ahead to win the title in four races.
“After two tough races early in the season, the way the team bounced back, the way they led, they took control of this championship,” Horner said.
Verstappen won the 28-lap Japanese GP by 26.7 seconds to main title rival Charles Leclerc. But the Ferrari driver was handed a five-second penalty, and Sergio Perez moved up to second to complete a Red Bull one-two.
“To make 25 seconds on 20-odd laps on Charles was a great performance,” Horner said. “When Czecho finished second, it’s fantastic for him and the championship. A big point for the builders too, I’m really happy with the result, and I think Max is a really deserving champion.
“To do that with four races to go is a really amazing performance. I think Max is on another planet this year. He’s dominated this championship, and he’s driven with such maturity, such confidence. And I think it’s a lot less than last year’s Abu Dhabi, which was a titanic battle.” It is controversial,” he said.
Verstappen’s Suzuka win was his 12th of the season, leaving him one away from the record for most wins in a single season. Horner said Verstappen was “in the form of his life” after securing his second title, and the driver sees little chance of easing up in the final races.
Advertisement | Become a RaceFans fan and
2022 Japanese Grand Prix
Browse all 2022 Japanese Grand Prix articles