Horner: Never heard Hamilton recognize Verstappen’s ability

Horner: I’ve never heard Lewis recognize Max’s abilityChristian Horner reflected on the 2021 rivalry between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, claiming he never once heard the latter recognize his rival’s ability.

Horner’s statement came when comparing the rivalry dynamics between Verstappen and Charles Leclerc this season, to those that prevailed in the reigning Formula 1 Champion’s bitter fight with Hamilton in 2021.

“You know, there’s a difference, there’s perhaps a different respect with Charles,” Horner said on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. “They raced each other since kids, and there was a mutual respect.

“I’ve never once ever heard Lewis recognise Max’s ability,” he claimed. “And so of course, there was just a bit more needle to it and you could feel that, and you could sense that between those two drivers.”

As for Verstappen’s respect to Hamilton, Horner said: “I think there’s always been respect. I mean, you can’t not respect everything that Lewis has done and achieved thus far is remarkable. I mean, probably never to be bettered.

“But you know, everybody is beatable at some point in time,” he reflected. “Max had a respectfulness but he wasn’t in awe of him [Hamilton] or he wasn’t afraid of him and he relished going up against him.

“He relished the opportunity to go wheel to wheel, racing with him. And I think ultimately, he believed that he could beat him. And it was that inner belief and self confidence that on so many occasions you come through,” the Briton explained.

Verstappen rattled Hamilton in 2021

Looking back on 2021, the Red Bull boss recalled: “The racing we had in 2021, particularly between Max and Lewis, it was just on another dimension, I mean that those two guys were going at it every weekend hammer and tong and it was two titans at the top of their game. And it was, it was fantastic to be part of.

“It was was hard racing, but it was fair racing. Did we get to a point where they’d got in each other’s heads? And it was always going to end in the odd collision, because neither was prepared to give anything, I think arguably, maybe more so in Lewis’ head because of Max.

“I think arguably, maybe more so in Lewis’ head because of Max. He’s the seven-time World Champion that has everything to lose. Max is the young kid that’s taking the risks, that’s throwing everything at it, and got nothing to lose,” he explained.

Horner looked back at Verstappen’s attacking style against Hamilton, claiming it started to unsettle the latter building up towards the infamous Copse incident at the 2021 British Grand Prix.

He said: “Some of his [Verstappen] overtaking last year was stunning and you felt that started to rattle Lewis. I think, you know, definitely saw after Lewis qualified on pole at Silverstone, and Max won the sprint race you saw Lewis was a bit broken after the sprint race.

“And had Max made it through Copse, I don’t think they’d have seen him [Hamilton] again after that afternoon,” the 48-year-old insisted.

“It was high stakes stuff and your emotions run high, but it probably affected Lewis, arguably more than Max because, as I say, he had got more to lose than the Max,” Horner maintained.