Formula 1: Horner 'has never heard Hamilton recognise Verstappen's ability'

Lewis Hamilton shakes hands with Christian Horner

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has said that he has ‘never once heard’ Lewis Hamilton recognise the ability of Max Verstappen.

Hamilton and Verstappen were engaged in an epic, season-long duel for the Formula 1 world title last year with a number of memorable flashpoints along the way, including their opening-race battle in Bahrain, their clashes at Silverstone, Monza and Saudi Arabia and, of course, the finale in Abu Dhabi that was shrouded in controversy.

Ultimately, the history books will show that Verstappen took the crown in 2021 after a huge tussle with the seven-time world champion, and it was clear at times there was some needle between the two drivers given the stakes at play, though their relationship did always appear respectful despite what was on the line.

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Horner has given his views on their battle speaking to the Beyond the Grid podcast, meanwhile, and suggested that the Mercedes driver has, to his recollection, not once recognised Max’s ability as a driver, with him comparing the two drivers’ relationship and rivalry to that of Verstappen’s and Charles Leclerc’s:

“You know, there’s a difference, there’s perhaps a different respect with Charles,” said Horner.

“They raced each other since [being] kids, and there was a mutual respect. I’ve never once ever heard Lewis recognise Max’s ability.

“And so of course, there was just a bit more needle to it and you could feel that, and you could sense that between those two drivers.”

Horner was also asked about whether either of the drivers got in the other’s head last year during the psychological battle for supremacy:

“I think arguably, maybe more so in Lewis’ head because he’s the seven-time World Champion that has everything to lose, Max is the young kid that’s taking the risks, that’s throwing everything at it, and got nothing to lose.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 17: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda leads the field into turn one at the start during the Sprint for the F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 17, 2021 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

“We definitely saw after Lewis qualified on pole at Silverstone and Max won the sprint race you saw Lewis, he was a bit broken after the sprint race.

“Had Max made it through Copse [corner in the British Grand Prix], I don’t think they’d have seen him again that afternoon, so there was an air of desperation building in as well.

“It was high stakes stuff and your emotions run high, but it probably affected Lewis arguably more than Max because, as I say, he’d got more to lose than Max.”

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It was an enthralling championship, and things this year have certainly been a little more sedate in that respect.

Max can win a second world title as early as Singapore next time out, having dominated large portions of this year.

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