Verstappen became Red Bull’s second world champion after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend, but the team lost the constructors’ crown to rivals Mercedes.
Verstappen received his prize from the FIA free from any concerns about Mercedes contesting the results of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after they announced they would not pursue an appeal earlier in the day.
Max Verstappen has had an excellent season. He has been at a consistently outstanding level and probably proven himself the fastest driver on the grid in the process.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has reiterated that Max Verstappen is “totally deserving” of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship.
Verstappen and Horner were present at the FIA’s prize-giving gala in Paris where the trophies are handed out for various motorsport categories from F1, Formula E, WRC, WEC and many others.
The final segment of the night was Verstappen official crowning of the 2021 F1 world championship, while James Allison collected the constructors’ trophy on behalf of Mercedes.
Speaking ahead of the prize-giving in Paris, Horner reflected on the season and hailed Verstappen for his title-winning campaign in 2021.
“It’s been an incredible year and when you look back at the season as a whole, 22 races, I think the biggest season Formula 1 has ever had and from the first race in Bahrain it has been so competitive,” Horner said.
“There’s been on average probably 0.1, 0.2s between the two drivers throughout the season and I think the way that Max has driven throughout the year, what’s really stood out for me is in moments of adversity where he’s just kept his head down he’s kept believing, he’s kept pushing, he’s kept driving the team forward and we’ve known every time he’s got in the car he’s given it 110%.
“That lifts everybody around them. Particularly in the second half of the year when we didn’t have the fastest package, he kept us in this championship, he kept fighting, he kept believing. It’s just been the most unbelievable year, we’re incredibly proud of everything he’s done this year and totally deserving of this world championship.”
Horner praised Verstappen for the “so few mistakes” during the season despite “massive pressure” from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton.
“Well I think we’ve just given him a better car and he’s made great use of it,” Horner added. “He’s finished every race either first or second, bar one where he had half his car missing in Budapest. The statistics talk for themselves – the amount of laps that he’s led, the pole positions, the race victories – he’s been outstanding.
“And so few mistakes under massive pressure, and I think that what you forget is the pressure that has been building and building through this championship, and the way as a young man that he’s dealt with and coped with that has been inspirational.”
Horner cited Verstappen’s late puncture in Baku and his crash with Hamilton at Silverstone as ‘key moments’ along the way to the title.
“There’s been some big moments,” Horner explained. “It was important to get those victories, to get the run of results, and there was moments like Azerbaijan that we had to come back from, and it was important to come back strong. Max did that. Silverstone was a key moment and again how you come back from that.
“For me in the latter part of the championship – particularly Austin where we were certainly the underdog that day but he delivered a victory that was truly outstanding.”
Totally deserving – Horner about Verstappen Totally deserving – Horner about Verstappen