Red Bull team principal Christian Horner revealed after last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix that Max Verstappen wanted to win it “by 20 seconds”, following the team’s misery in Singapore.
The reigning World Champion returned to winning ways at Suzuka and secured his 13th victory of the season with ease, by 19.3 seconds over Lando Norris.
With the exception of an early challenge by McLaren, the Dutchman cruised to Red Bull’s 15th win of 2023 and secured them the Constructors’ Championship.
It was the perfect response to his and Red Bull’s winning streak ending at the Singapore Grand Prix, where some questioned whether their sudden poor performance was due to being impacted by a new Technical Directive.
This “fired up” Verstappen, who stated at the Marina Bay Circuit that he wanted to win in Japan by a 20-second margin.
Verstappen was sensational in Japan from the get-go and immediately looked blisteringly quick, with Horner admitting that the 25-year-old was “totally focused” on returning to the top step of the podium.
“Sometimes the races you lose are the weekends you learn the most out of,” Horner said in Suzuka, as reported by F1i.com. “It was a big reminder for everybody that it’s very easy to miss the target.
“I think we all left Singapore knowing that ultimately the winning run would come to an end, but we were a little frustrated.
“I was playing padel tennis with Max on Wednesday and he was properly fired up. He made it clear: ‘I want to win the race by 20 seconds.’
“He managed to come within 0.7 seconds of doing that!
“From the very first lap in FP1, where on the Hard tyre he was 1.8 seconds faster than the rest of the field on Medium and Soft tyres, he was totally focused on this event.”
Following on from his win at the Japanese GP, Verstappen can now seal his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship next weekend at the Qatar Grand Prix.
He can claim the crown in the sprint race at the Losail International Circuit, something which is hugely expected given how poor Sergio Perez was in Singapore and Japan.
Red Bull should be quick in Qatar, with the circuit consisting of several high-speed corners.