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Red Bull’s Christian Horner reveals moment Max Verstappen showed he could handle pressure of F1 title fight

The Independent
The Independent
 2021-12-01

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Max Verstappen is showing “impressive maturity” as he battles Lewis Hamilton for the F1 title, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has said, and the Dutchman is racing “better than ever” as a result.

Verstappen leads title rival Hamilton by eight points heading into the penultimate race of the season in Saudi Arabia this weekend, and he could win his maiden championship in Jeddah if results go his way.

Seven-time champion Hamilton has cut Verstappen’s lead at the top of the standings by winning the past two races in Brazil and Qatar, but the 24-year-old has limited the damage by ensuring that he has finished second on both occasions.

Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty before the race in Qatar but quickly surged through the field to finish behind Hamilton and remain at the top of the standings with two races of the season to go.

And Horner, who has not won a championship with Red Bull since Sebastian Vettel’s fourth title in 2013, said the way Verstappen has reacted to Hamilton’s challenge shows how well his driver is dealing with the pressure of the F1 title race.

“Make no mistake, fighting for your first F1 title is an intense moment in your racing career, but the maturity Max has shown throughout the campaign has been extremely impressive,” Horner said in his column for the Red Bull official website .

“He’s relaxed and dealing with the pressure incredibly well, I think he is driving better than ever.

A good example of this was during the race in Qatar, when he did not feel we could catch Lewis, but commented over the that radio he ‘wanted to have some fun’.

“Max is plain-speaking and he calls it how he sees it. He doesn’t work with a sports psychologist, it is just how he copes with it.”

Verstappen will win the F1 title on Sunday if he scores 18 points more than Hamilton in Saudi Arabia, but a positive result for the British driver could see the title lead change hands ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next week.

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