Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is happy with Max Verstappen’s aggressive driving approach in the Mexican Grand Prix, following comments from his rivals.
Verstappen was penalized for not slowing for yellow flags at the end of qualifying, costing him pole position. He was then involved in a tussle with Lewis Hamilton at the start of the race that saw both cars run off-track at Turn 2, and in fighting back picked up a puncture after a lunge on Valtteri Bottas. With Hamilton, Bottas and Sebastian Vettel all saying they race Verstappen differently due to his aggression, Horner has no complaints about his driver’s style on Sunday.
“It could have gone either way,” Horner said. “It’s hard racing with Lewis, they were both racing hard, and that’s what it’s all about. The move with Bottas was a tough one because arguably he’d done the pass, he got clipped on the way out of the corner with Valtteri’s front wing, so it was just unlucky. Some days that can go for you, some days it can go against you.”
Horner was addressing Verstappen’s approach following comments from Sunday’s top three, with Hamilton saying he tries to give the Dutchman extra room.
“I think every driver is slightly different,” Hamilton said. “Some are smarter; some are like very smart, aggressive and some are silly with it. And so, through those experiences of racing with people, you give some more space and others you don’t have to. They’re quite respectful.
“But yeah, Max, it’s very likely you’re going to come together with Max if you don’t give him extra space, so most of the time you do. I didn’t have a lot of space to give him extra space. But I don’t think it was intentional or anything like that. It was just… he’s a magnet for those kind of things but yeah, nonetheless, I managed to keep the car together and in a straight line, fortunately.”
Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas admitted he was surprised by Verstappen’s move in the stadium section in Mexico and believes the risk it involved meant the following damage was the Red Bull driver’s fault.
“Just out of nowhere he appeared on the inside into Turn 13 and I couldn’t disappear from there,” Bottas said. “He just dived in and we touched. He got a puncture from that, so… I couldn’t really avoid him, so I think he earned his own puncture, definitely.
“I don’t know (about racing him differently), every driver is obviously different. Some are more aggressive, some are less. I haven’t raced very closely for some time with all of them, so I can’t say in detail for all the drivers.”
Vettel simply agreed with both Mercedes drivers, saying his answer would be a “copy-paste” version of Hamilton’s and that Verstappen is the most aggressive driver on the grid.