Christian Horner says Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc are miles off Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen won the 2022 drivers’ championship by a staggering 146 points.

2022 was the perfect year for Red Bull, as they comfortably won both championships with time to spare, allowing the team to switch their attention to planning for 2023 earlier than expected.

Verstappen faced an early challenge from Charles Leclerc in his hunt for his second world title, however mistakes by Ferrari, combined with efficient development by Red Bull, saw the Dutchman soon pull away from his Monegasque rival.

The 25-year-old shattered the previous record of 13 race wins in a season, previously held by Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, as he eventually went on to win a stunning 15 races on his was to championship glory.

Helmut Marko has previously stated that he believes it is not worthwhile anyone attempting to challenge the Red Bull driver, such is his unbeatable talent, and team principal Christian Horner has now given his take on his driver’s ability.

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“I never look too far ahead, but for me, Max is way above the rest in Formula 1,” he claimed.

“I think we can achieve a lot more if we give him a car that matches his talent.

“There are only two drivers in Formula 1 who are halfway to the level of Verstappen, which are Leclerc and [Lewis] Hamilton.”

Despite Horner’s claims, Verstappen will have to go some way to match the achievements of Hamilton, who is currently hunting for his record breaking eighth world title, however he is 12 years more experienced than the Dutchman.

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Leclerc has also shown on occasion that he has the potential to match Verstappen, however both he and his team are prone to errors that cost them dearly time and time again.

2023 will not be as comfortable for Red Bull as they have gotten used to this year, as Ferrari will look to start strong under new management, while Mercedes will be confident of improving on their slow start to the new regulations.

The energy drink giants will be handicapped by their cost cap breach penalty, which will see the team allocated significantly less wind tunnel testing time than anyone else on the grid, giving Ferrari and Mercedes a head start in what promises to be a much more competitive season.