Horner: ‘Mega talent’ Verstappen now an F1 great

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  • Nate Saunders, General Editor, F1Jun 18, 2023, 06:47 PM ET

MONTREAL — Max Verstappen can already be considered alongside Formula One’s greats at age 25, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner.

Verstappen is cruising towards a third straight world championship title and with his 41st victory at the Canadian Grand Prix he has moved level with Ayrton Senna, fifth on the all-time winners’ list.

Verstappen shared the podium with two other multiple world champions in Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton — the trio have a combined 11 titles between them.

Horner said it was fitting for Verstappen to celebrate the win in such company.

“What we’re witnessing with Max is the emergence of another mega talent and you can start to talk about him in the same sentence as the greats now, having matched Ayrton Senna,” Horner said. “I thought the podium today was very apt of the last couple of decades of Formula One, with Max, Fernando and Lewis up there. He just keeps delivering at such a high level.”

Horner was impressed with Verstappen’s solid race victory, which he did with a bird stuck inside his car’s brake duct, but said the best part of the weekend was his dominant pole in wet conditions on Saturday.

“The race he did today was fantastic. But for me, yesterday was outstanding in conditions that were continually changing. His ability to adapt, at all points, the conditions, whatever tyre, whatever grip level he had. Max at his best.”

Verstappen often downplays talks of records or the victories he has amassed — on Thursday, during a media session ahead of the race, he pointed out there are more races now than in Senna’s heyday.

Horner is sure equaling the Brazilian’s win tally will mean something to him.

“I think part of him inside will be quite proud of that. I don’t think he’s one to show huge emotion. He’s a very modest guy. He’s very understated in many ways. But I think behind the scenes it will mean quite a lot to him.

“He’s just a normal guy. You don’t see… he’s not the kind of guy who’s going to jump up and down on the podium. All that kind of stuff. He loves racing, he drives a car hard, he gives it everything. What you see is what you get.

“He’s driving at an incredible level and the way he is working with the team, the confidence he has, the maturity he has.”

Alain Prost’s career tally of 51 victories is next on the horizon for Verstappen.