Christian Horner on characteristic Max Verstappen shares with Tyson Fury
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, has likened Max Verstappen’s “killer instinct” to that of World Champion boxer Tyson Fury.
At just 25, Verstappen is already widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1 history having made his debut for the Red Bull-supported Toro Rosso team as a 17-year-old back in 2015.
Verstappen won in his first appearance for the main Red Bull team at Barcelona 2016 and went on to win two consecutive World Championships in 2021 and ’22.
He currently leads team-mate Sergio Perez by six points in the 2023 standings ahead of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.
The Dutchman is noted for his ruthlessness on and off track – having confronted Mercedes driver George Russell after contact on the first lap of the recent sprint race in Azerbaijan – and as the son of former grand prix driver Jos Verstappen was prepared for a career in F1 from a tender age.
With the Dutchman winning 27 of the last 48 grands prix stretching back to the start of his maiden title-winning season, Horner sees similarities between Verstappen and Fury, who is unbeaten in 34 professional fights since 2008.
He told London’s Evening Standard: “I see a lot of Tyson Fury’s killer instinct in Max.
“Max had a tough upbringing and he’s got that inner ‘just don’t give up’.
“It’s not anger, but that hunger, drive, self- confidence and belief — and also he likes Tyson Fury.”
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Asked if Verstappen could yet go on to become the greatest driver of all time, Horner responded: “That’s a big ask.
“He’s 25 years old and a double World Champion.
“What he’s achieved already in this sport is amazing.
“A lot will depend on the car that we give him, but he’s the standout of the current generation of outstanding driver talent.”
Perez remains equal on victories with Verstappen after the first four rounds of 2023, having followed up his win in Saudi Arabia in March with success last weekend in Baku, where he also finished P1 in the sprint race.
With the likes of Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon made to suffer in the same car as Verstappen in recent years, Horner is full of praise for the way the Mexican has handled the role of being his team-mate.
“It’s incredibly tough,” he explained. “That’s why I think Checo is doing a great job.
“Mentally, Max can destroy team-mates, younger drivers haven’t had the roundedness to deal with Max Verstappen.
“Checo has that experience. He accepts that Max is an exceptional talent but, if he focuses on himself, he can get close to him and challenge him at many venues.
“Whether he’s able to do that consistently over 23 races, we’ll see. He knows that’s his biggest challenge. He recognises the talent Max has and he’s completely comfortable with that.
“He’s had a great start to the season and knows he has a great car, but he needs to beat the other guy on the other side of the garage.”
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