Christian Horner jumps to Max Verstappen’s defence for lashing out

Max Verstappen can retain his Drivers' Championship at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix if he wins the race.

Max Verstappen might not have won the 2022 Drivers’ Championship at last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix; however, he did win the award for most explicit radio message of the season, after shouting certain non-PG words down the team radio after a huge qualifying blunder.

Last weekend’s Singapore GP was Verstappen’s first chance at retaining his World Championship, but it wasn’t to be after his team made a monumental error in qualifying, which ended his hopes of victory at the Marina Bay Circuit.

Whilst on his final lap in Q3, his team told him to abort the lap and enter the pits, much to the dissatisfaction of the Dutchman.

Verstappen exploded over the team’s radio and blasted one of the most explicit radio messages of the season.

READ: ‘You had a good lap?’ Charles Leclerc mocks Max Verstappen

It was later revealed that Red Bull hadn’t fuelled Verstappen’s RB18 with enough fuel for the final lap, which would’ve resulted in the championship leader being unable to provide a necessary fuel sample after the race.

Had Verstappen completed the lap, then it would’ve resulted in a disqualification from the session and a pitlane start.

Verstappen started eighth as a result of aborting his final lap, which made for a difficult race.

The Red Bull driver’s GP started by cutting across Turn One and dropping down to P12, before recovering to P6.

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The race didn’t get any less frantic for the Dutchman, who almost drove straight into the back of Lando Norris, and then locked-up massively at Turn Seven.

His huge lock-up resulted in an additional pit-stop, which saw the Dutchman have to fight through the field once again.

By the time Verstappen crossed the finish line, he’d recovered to seventh.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner understands why Verstappen said what he did following qualifying, but admits it wasn’t worth the “risk”.

“I mean he obviously blew a valve, but it’s completely understandable and I think we were pushing too much for the optimum, the track ramped up, we got an extra lap in so we were perfectly positioned… to be the last car effectively over the line,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“But the fuel was just too marginal, and rather than take the risk of not being able to produce a sample and start from the pit lane, we took the tough decision to abort the lap.

“[We realised] about two corners before the pit lane, and it was right, right on the edge, and it was a question of: look, we just can’t afford to take this risk.”

Verstappen will get his second shot to claim the title this weekend at the first Japanese GP since 2019, but to do so he needs to score six more points than Charles Leclerc and eight more than Sergio Pérez.

READ: Breaking: Delayed FIA decision indicates Red Bull trickery

For the team, Japan would be the perfect place to wrap up the title, with it being Honda’s home race, something which is even more significant following the announcement of Honda’s ‘return’ to Red Bull.

“We’ve got Austin, we’ve got Mexico, they’re all big races, but yeah [Japan is] an important race,” said Horner.

“Japan, first time back there for three years, huge support for the team, and yeah, there’ll be a lot of excitement. And a great circuit, a real driver’s circuit, and we’re looking forward to Japan.”