Hamilton, ‘Mercedes media machine’ have targeted Verstappen, says Horner

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Hamilton, ‘Mercedes media machine’ have targeted Verstappen, says Horner

Formula 1

Hamilton, ‘Mercedes media machine’ have targeted Verstappen, says Horner


Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Mercedes has attempted to put added pressure on Max Verstappen this season, ahead of the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen has led the majority of the championship but a run of three consecutive race victories for Lewis Hamilton left the pair heading into the final race level on points. After the defending champion described Verstappen as “f***ing crazy” during the last race in Saudi Arabia, Horner claims comments from Hamilton and the sway he believes Mercedes has over media has led to a narrative against Verstappen.

“Lewis is a seven-time world champion, he’s the most successful driver of all time, he has a standing obviously within the sport and what he says carries a lot of weight,” Horner said. “I think he has used every tool available to him to put Max under pressure this year. He’s a competitive animal — you don’t become a seven-time world champion by not being a competitor like he is.

“Yes, I believe — and backed up by the Mercedes media machine — a huge amount of pressure has been placed on Max. What you’ve got to remember with Max is he’s just a young lad. He’s a 24-year-old who drives with bravery, with passion, with skill, with determination, and he’s just a guy living his dream, doing his job.

“And he’s up against not only Lewis but a huge machine in Mercedes-Benz. I think all credit to him the way he’s handled that pressure this year and hasn’t been drawn into it, hasn’t been sucked into it — he’s just gone about his business and he hasn’t changed from Bahrain to Saudi, his approach or how he goes racing.”

When it was put to him that Red Bull is a major global brand too, Horner dismissed the comparison.

“Well not really — if you think of the size of Mercedes globally they must be one of the biggest automotive companies in the world. The power that they wield with media around the world, I think we pale into insignificance in comparison. As Lewis Hamilton indeed called us, we’re just an energy drinks company going racing.

“So no, I think that Mercedes — Mercedes Formula 1 Team — have become a machine over the last seven or eight years during their period of dominance and obviously have the weight and power of the parent company behind them, because I can’t believe it’s particularly comfortable being beaten by an energy drinks manufacturer as a major OEM. That’s never sat comfortably, we know that — it’s been made quite clear to us.

“We’re a team of racers, we’re going racing, we’ve got a phenomenal driver who has driven his heart out this year, and it’s been intense on track and off track. I do think that the spotlight, even the narrative of this last week of this ‘Mad Max’ scenario, calling him crazy — there’s been a very clear narrative.”