F1: Christian Horner's remarkable interview just before Verstappen vs Hamilton chaos

  • Kobe Tong

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Christian Horner was over the moon when Max Verstappen completed a dramatic comeback to be crowned Formula 1 world champion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday night.

Although Red Bull ultimately finished second to Mercedes in the Constructors Championship, there was no shortage of celebrations from Horner and his team as Verstappen bagged the drivers' title.

Besides, it couldn't have come in more dramatic circumstances with a late safety car allowing the Dutchman to have a one-lap shootout against Lewis Hamilton that he duly won on fresher tyres.

Horner's dramatic journey at Red Bull

It really did make for one of the most dramatic laps in F1 history with Horner living through each and every emotion imaginable as we watched Verstappen snatch the title from Hamilton at the death.

There's no denying that it will rank amongst Horner's proudest achievements in the sport with Verstappen becoming Red Bull's first world champion since Sebastian Vettel triumphed in 2013.

And the intervening years were most certainly tough for the Brit's team with the era of dominance under Vettel making way for Mercedes' virtual monopoly on the sport from 2014 onwards.

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Who won the opening race of the 2021 season, held in Bahrain?

Red Bull's post-2013 struggles

Speaking to the High Performance Podcast, Horner was very open about the jarring transition that it marked for Red Bull in admissions and reflections that look fascinating after 2021's return to the top.

"The first five years were all about building and then we started winning and we won everything for four years, even though two of those years went down to the wire and then 2014 comes along," Horner reflected.

"There's a big change in regulations. The engines change, significantly in configuration. Suddenly we're second best, but we're not just second best. We're second best by miles.

"And everybody's been used to winning. Everybody's been used to going to races and you know, if we're not winning, we're competing for the win.

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"And suddenly we were nowhere and you could feel the energy dipping. And of course, then people become a little bit disgruntled and you become easy to be picked off by some of your competitors.

"So that period was all about retaining the belief that we'll get this sorted out."

And Sunday's chaotic events really were the culmination of so much hard work from Horner and his Red Bull team to get back to the winning ways that they became used to between 2010 and 2013.

However, even the man himself would be happy to admit that Red Bull benefitted from a little bit of luck in those final moments in Abu Dhabi when it came to bouncing back from that 2014 nadir.

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Read more: The High Performance Podcast hub

Horner's interview before Hamilton vs Verstappen chaos

In fact, Horner himself could be heard preempting that fact as he gave a fascinating interview to Sky Sports F1 when there were only 10 laps remaining and Hamilton looked nailed on for victory.

Before the safety car incident provoked by Nicholas Latifi's crash, it looked nigh on impossible that Verstappen would be able to close the gap to Hamilton - and Horner was painfully aware of that.

However, Horner's admission that Red Bull needed a 'miracle' and help from the 'racing gods' looks remarkable now when you consider that we were only a few laps away from that actually happening.

"The pace of the Mercedes is just too strong today," Horner admitted with a deflated tone of voice. "Max is driving his heart out out there but we're going to need a miracle in these last 10 laps to turn it around.

"He's got four cars to go through. He needs some luck from the racing gods on these last 10 laps. We're going to give it everything as we have done all year. He'll drive his heart out the last ten laps. You can guarantee that."

Fortune favours the brave

I guess sometimes you do get what you wish for.

Red Bull and Verstappen might have needed the very miracle that Horner referred to during Sky's broadcast, but in the ever-unpredictable world of sport, miracles very much can and do happen.

In this case, Horner was on the right side of fortune as opposed to Toto Wolff's Mercedes, but it can't help feeling amusing apt when the 48-year-old predicted that exactly that would be required to win.

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