Verstappen has shown he is capable of backing out of collisions – Horner

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has insisted his driver Max Verstappen is prepared to back out of collisions when racing wheel-to-wheel with rivals.

Verstappen has a three-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix for his collision with Lewis Hamilton in the previous round at Monza. The stewards ruled the Red Bull driver was predominantly to blame for the crash, which eliminated both drivers, as he was not far enough alongside Hamilton to attempt a move.

Horner said Verstappen has shown willingness to concede corners to rivals when he has to, but believes his rivals recognise he is unlikely to do so.

“Of course we always review any incident and look at it very carefully and you always look and think ‘could I have done anything different, could I have done anything better’,” said Horner.

“Max is always very open to that. He’s extremely self-critical. You’re always learning. But he is a hard racer. It’s part of his characteristic. It’s part of why he has the following that he does.

“You know that when he’s in the car he’s going to give 110%. I think that also has the impact on the driver on he’s racing because they just know he’s going to go for it.

“Of course there has to be measure and I think that at the right time he has shown that measure, I think in different races even that we’ve seen this year.

“But it’s part of the character that he is, he’s an attacking driver, it’s part of his make-up and I don’t think that is going to change.”

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Three-times world champion Jackie Stewart was among those who took issue with Verstappen’s approach following the Monza crash, saying it showed he lacked maturity. Horner dismissed the criticism.

“Of course I always respects Sir Jackie’s opinion but I think Max has shown great maturity this year,” said Horner. “And of course, you’re always evolving, you’re always learning. I’m sure Sir Jackie made a few mistakes in his time. That’s the journey of life, you learn from every experience.

“I think when you see the progression from a 17-year-old when [Verstappen] came into Formula 1 to the driver he is today, it’s pretty impressive.”

Yesterday Hamilton suggested the collision between the pair was a consequence of the pressure Verstappen is feeling in his first championship fight in Formula 1, a view Horner also rejected.

“I don’t see any change in him at all,” said Horner. “Max is a young guy, he is going for it, he’s got nothing to lose. He’s not sitting there with a bunch of world championships defending the title. He’s the challenger and I think that that’s the way he’s attacking this championship.

“When you see the pressure he was under under with a home crowd in Zandvoort, you don’t get bigger pressure than that. I think the way he handled that in particular was was truly impressive.

“He’s just really enjoying and relishing this battle. It’s been a long, long time since we’ve been in a position like this and, of course, that’s exciting for him, it’s exciting and motivating for the whole team.”

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Dieter Rencken
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17 comments on “Verstappen has shown he is capable of backing out of collisions – Horner”

  1. the more drama the better season will be, in this rate even netflix is not gonna have enough screen time to depict all this drama.

    My take is, neither lewis nor Max is going to backup anymore. Max has everything to lose, Lewis is 7times already WC, he may fancy 8th but in no way like Max fancies 1st. I would just be as harsh as Max and give no space. Lewis was very lenient in the past, because even with that he knew he could win WC, but thats not the case. He has to be ruthless as well, and show Max when he needs to back off.

    Max on other side, just don’t change anything and give us the drama we want my boy.

  2. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has insisted his driver Max Verstappen is prepared to back out of collisions when racing wheel-to-wheel with rivals.

    So at least he admits Verstappen has previously used the tactic of move or I’ll crash into you. Fine for a demolition derby, stupid and dangerous in an open wheeler.

    1. @johnrkh

      Any driver has at this level. Lewis has too. It’s just double standards o’clock again.

      1. But Hamilton has backed out to avoid collisions @aapje. Imola and Spain comes to mind. When has Verstappen backed out? According to others comments, it was in 2017. In other word: a long time ago.

      2. @aapje No not double standards at all! The article is specifically about Verstappen, I don’t remember the same level and consistency of criticism of Hamilton when he was a young driver at McLaren.
        I was critical of Senna and Schumacher for their over aggressive and sometimes dangerous tactics, and their achievements are diminished because of them in my eyes.
        I will make the same point as I have done before. Drivers of the calibre of those mentioned above have no need to use cheap shoddy moves to win.

        1. @johnrkh

          Lewis constantly did this against Nico…

  3. Err no, Christian.
    Verstappen is a lot of things, but backing out is not one of them. While this season the only battles he has had are with Lewis (aside from the Hungary turn 1 incident when Bottas rear-ended him), he can afford to be risk taking. But if you look at 2020 and before, Max has had incidents with everyone, Leclerc, Ricciardo, even the famous incident with a lapped Ocon in 2018 Brazil.

  4. I’m sorry, when has Verstappen ever shown willingness to back out? From everything I’ve seen he just goes in and expects the other driver to back out, regardless of who actually has the line.

    Hamilton has previously backed out on many occasions rather than risk a collision when he was leading. In fact, several times in previous seasons he’s yielded to Verstappen rather than risk a collision (2017 Malaysia for instance) At Silverstone, having already been forced to yield earlier in the lap after being forced wide, he obviously said ‘no more’ and then perhaps overcooked it, though honestly I’m not sure Verstappen would have made the corner at the speed he was going either.

    Christian, just because he’s told you in a conversation that he ‘may’ back out, doesn’t mean he does.
    I can’t actually think of a single notable incident where Verstappen has backed out. But a few instances jump to mind when he should have (China 2018, cutting the corner at Austin 2017)

    1. Easiest that pops up for me (there are dozens) is Brasil in the rain, was it 2017? A few corners before he overtook Vettel he conceded the place to Vettel when he was trying to go around on the outside (unlike Vettel a few corners later claiming he was pushed off). I am glad to see the young ones setting the record straight and making it racing again instead of the Vettel & Lewis era of car dominance and processional racing. We should all be glad. Not long before Lewis & Vettel will be gone and with them this off track political mumbo jumbo. Be an athlete please.

      1. Indeed, and also I’ve seen some example this year where he took a more careful approach when racing drivers he’s not fighting for the title; brazil wet race was 2016.

  5. He means, Verstappen can back out but chooses not to.
    The way Horner distorts reality is just amazing.

  6. The only times that I’ve seen Max back out very clearly and meekly are against Leclerc, whom he knows will be just as aggressive against him.

    Charles complained about what Max did to him a few years ago in Austria, but Max was actually very conservative the first attempt, and in my view, perfectly entitled to run him wide on the second try.

  7. I read it as “Verstappen has shown he is INcapable of backing out of collisions – Horner”. Quite telling, frankly.

    PS: The only thing Verstappen has shown is that he would rather lose a race than let anyone — even if it’s a backmarker unlapping himselft — overtake him. Years go by, and Verstappen still crashes because he can’t accept that someone is faster.

  8. What a sad lot some of these comments are. Until Monza, Verstappen had zero points to his license. That’s some nice racing from him ánd ZERO points accrued over a year. Just think about it.
    Cut the crap about him being all “my way or a crash”- That’s just the same story being uttered by Merc/Hamilton, over and over…If that story would be true, he’d have some points.
    I’m not a fan of either – just a fan of the racing. If we could just look at what we see and know, instead of regurgitating team trash talk/media clickbait

  9. I had the great good fortune to watch Jackie Stewart race live on many occasions ,comparing his driving to Max Verstappen’s by suggesting he made mistakes that could possibly make him not as free to criticise and somehow justify Max’s driving style is a sure sign that Horner didn’t. Perhaps the extremely poor Austrian who followed Jackies great friend has been giving Horner green tinged information.

  10. I don’t buy this shash about Max being ‘under pressure to perform’ at Zandvoort. He knows he has the current best car on the grid and he just ran away with the race. Yes, he executed it perfectly (well done him) but that’s hardly what constitutes pressure for a top-drawer athlete…

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