Christian Horner fires Max Verstappen warning at Ferrari and Mercedes

Max Verstappen is in an excellent position to defend his maiden Formula 1 championship.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has denied that Max Verstappen has reached his peak yet, despite the Dutchman looking unbeatable this season.

Verstappen won the 2021 Championship after a titanic fight with Sir Lewis Hamilton, who was gunning for his record-breaking eighth F1 title.

This was an especially impressive accomplishment, as Mercedes seemed to have the faster car for much of the season.

After winning his maiden title in the pinnacle of motorsport, Horner believes that the 24-year-old has been “released”, but warns his rivals that there is much more to come.

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“I think in many respects it’s [winning the title] released him,” said Horner.

“That expectation of needing to win your first world championship – he’s achieved that. He has that on his CV now. Anything that he adds to that is a bonus.”

Continuing, Horner said Verstappen has “become more rounded, more experienced, and has handled the pressure incredibly well, which is remarkable for a 24-year-old.”

He added that the Red Bull ace is “continuing to evolve,” and believes he will get even stronger over the next few seasons.

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Despite his young age, Verstappen has been in Formula 1 for almost eight years, and looks set to win his second title in 2022.

He holds an 80-point advantage over Charles Leclerc heading to Spa later this month, meaning that he can retire from the next three races and still lead the standings, even if the Ferrari driver wins them all.

Despite this advantage, Horner has urged his team and drivers not to take their foot off the gas, as things can change very quickly in Formula 1.

Furthermore, Red Bull have experienced reliability woes in 2022, and although they seem to have addressed this weakness, the team is wary that it could reappear and cost them vital points.

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“He’s [Verstappen] doing a super job this year, Ferrari are tough competitors,” Horner said.

“They’ve also got two quick drivers, Mercedes are sorting themselves out and they could well be back in the game in the second half of the year. 

“There’s nothing that we take for granted, we have just got to keep that momentum running.”