Mercedes would need “to **** up by gargantuan proportions” to give Max Verstappen a chance of winning the drivers’ championship this year, admits Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner.
Verstappen has won two of the past four races, and also took pole position in Hungary before losing out to Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages. That win enabled Hamilton to extend his lead in the standings to 69 points over Verstappen — with Valtteri Bottas seven points ahead of the Red Bull — and Horner says his team’s thoughts will be on using the rest of this season to mount a more significant challenge next year.
“I think Lewis is close to a three-race advantage with nine to go,” Horner said. “So basically Lewis would have to not turn up for three races — if his cough comes back or something or he gets athlete’s foot… it’s hugely unlikely. They would have to **** up by gargantuan proportions not to win this championship.
“Our target for the rest of the year is to close that gap at races like (Hungary) and hopefully some races will work out the other way around for us like they did (in Germany). As we get more performance on the car, Honda make progress, this is very much a building year as we get to 2020.”
Despite Hamilton’s advantage, Horner says it is good for the sport that Verstappen is now making life difficult for the championship leader at a number of venues.
“Thank God for Red Bull and Max Verstappen for Formula 1 at the moment! Otherwise it would be a fairly boring show. I think it’s great to have races like (Budapest), even though we didn’t come out on top — it’s what fans want to see. I think the last four races in reality have been great races, after the bore-fest of France.
“Hopefully with the tracks we have coming up, there are exciting races to come. And if the grid does concertina and Max can race against Lewis and the Ferraris as well, then it is bright for the future.”