Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is confident Max Verstappen is ready to fight for the drivers’ championship if given the car to do so.
Verstappen won the fifth race of his Formula 1 career in Mexico on Sunday, comfortably beating Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen for his second win of the season. Despite four wins this season, Red Bull has been unable to match the consistency of Mercedes and Ferrari.
But Horner says Verstappen is “absolutely” ready for a title challenge if the Honda-powered Red Bull is competitive enough next season.
“I think it’s all part of his growth with experience,” Horner said. “He went through a tough path in the beginning of the year. But really, since Montreal, he’s doing some incredible races and yeah I think with experience that was really the only missing piece. All drivers make mistakes, you see that up and down the paddock. It’s what you learn from them.
“You’ve seen [in Mexico], if we’ve had an engine that is anywhere near the ballpark of our opponents, then we’ve got a strong enough team and strong enough driver package to take the fight to them.
“We’re obviously hopeful that the Honda, with the progress they’re making, will put us into a situation where we’re more regularly able to compete.”
Describing Verstappen’s drive as potentially his most impressive victory to date, Horner also says Renault deserves plaudits for how strong its power unit was in Mexico.
“Credit where credit is due. Renault have provided us with an engine in these conditions that is competitive with our opponents. That has enabled us to go head to head, lock out the front row, pole position, second position, front row of the grid, and win the grand prix in a dominant fashion.
“Theoretically we should have had a one/two. The altitude of the circuit obviously does constrain some of our rivals, and it puts Renault into a window where they are competitive. Which is why we put an awful lot of focus into [Mexico], taking the penalties to get another B spec into the pool to have.”