Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has stressed that the side don’t force Max Verstappen to always give a “PR view” when completing his media duties, with the Dutchman having the “freedom” to say what he wants.
Verstappen’s honest and sometimes brutal approach to his media duties has been criticised somewhat in recent months, most notably at the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
The three-time World Champion was highly critical of the race in Sin City and how he wasn’t a fan of the pre-event ceremony or all the additional interviews he was subjected to ahead of the Grand Prix.
He isn’t afraid of saying exactly what he thinks to the media, with him having also blasted F1 for tweaking the format throughout 2023.
Ever since they were initially discussed, Verstappen has been against Sprint races, something he’s been extremely vocal about.
In 2023, Verstappen threatened to the media that he’d potentially quit F1, if the sport’s bosses continue to make format changes.
Horner thinks it’s “quite refreshing” to have someone like the 26-year-old who isn’t afraid to say exactly what they are thinking, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.
“We believe in our drivers having a freedom of choice,” Horner told Motorsport.com. “They’re not robots, they have opinions. And Max has a voice as the world champion, and we don’t constrain him to give a PR view.
“He’s a very honest, young guy and he’ll tell you how he sees it. And I think that’s actually quite refreshing.”
Because he made his F1 debut at 17 years old, 2024 will mark Verstappen’s 10th season in the pinnacle of motorsport.
When reflecting on how the driver has changed over the years, Horner believes Verstappen has matured “a little bit” but that he’s still someone who simply “lives and breathes” racing but doesn’t lie the F1 “razzmatazz”.
“I think he’s changing because he’s maturing a little bit, he’s got a bit more facial hair these days,” Horner joked. “But no, the essence of who he is [is the same]. He gets in, he drives the car, drives the wheels off it.
“He doesn’t enjoy all the razzmatazz that surrounds Formula 1, but he never has. He does his job professionally. He’s just an out-and-out racer and [has his] feet on the ground. And if he’s not racing here, he’ll be driving a GT car or racing online. He lives and breathes it.”