Christian Horner reveals surprising Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes wish

Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton went into the 2021 season finale level on points.

While Max Verstappen’s 2022 crown has already been wrapped up, his 2021 success continues to be questioned following Red Bull’s breach of the budget cap.

Verstappen claimed his second consecutive World Championship at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, where he claimed his 12th victory of the season, further cementing his superiority over the paddock.

His maiden 2021 title, though, continues to be questioned ever more, with it being announced last Monday that the Austrians did exceed the 2021 budget cap and were the only team to do so.

The legitimacy of his 2021 crown was already tainted following former race director Michael Masi’s handling of the “manipulated” season finale, with the announcement that Red Bull’s 2021 car could be illegal, adding further flames to the fire.

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Whilst it’s believed that the team didn’t exceed the cap through car development, cheating is still cheating.

It doesn’t take away, though, how dramatic and incredible 2021 was, with Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton having unbelievably gone into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on points.

Hamilton was set to be an eight-time World Champion throughout the race, except for the second half of the last lap of the controversial event.

The emotions on show by both Mercedes and Red Bull is arguably something that has never been seen on that scale before, given how much the tensions had built throughout the campaign.

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner actually revealed on the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast what he said in his pre-race team talk at the season finale, where he told the Austrian side that they needed to be “proud” no matter the outcome.

“I remember before the race in Abu Dhabi getting all the guys together. I said ‘look, whatever happens today will happen’,” Horner said on the podcast.

“All we can do is do the best we can today and the most important thing is to be proud of what you’ve achieved to get us to this position to be fighting for this World Championship, that we’ve taken that all the way down to the wire.

“Most of all, enjoy it, enjoy this experience, whatever the outcome will be we don’t know. But let’s go in there with an approach of give it everything and enjoy it and embrace it. And in the end it paid off.

“I think that as a leader, how you conduct yourself permeates throughout a business. So if you’re feeling that tension then you’re passing that on. For me, that’s not a healthy way to lead a team, by fear.

“You want it to be inclusive, you want it to be open, you want people to be able to feel they’ve got a voice and that voice will be heard, rather than being afraid to speak up for fear of getting their head taken off.”

2022 has been nothing like last season, as Red Bull have simply escaped far into the distance in both championships.

This is due to Ferrari’s countless errors and Mercedes’ poor W13, which has seen them drop to be the third best team on the grid.

READ: Helmut Marko: ‘Thank god’ Red Bull proved Max Verstappen wrong

You would imagine that Horner would take some satisfaction from this, given his rivalry with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff; however, Horner explained that he prefers it when the Germans are at the front as it makes the “satisfaction” of beating them even greater.

“No, because it’s enjoyable racing against a team of their quality because they raise the stakes and raise the bar,” Horner revealed.

“And then we had to raise it higher to beat them. And so the satisfaction that gives you is immense.”