Mercedes “media machine” pushing narrative of “crazy” Verstappen – Horner

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Christian Horner has accused Mercedes of pushing a “clear narrative” against Max Verstappen ahead of this weekend’s championship-deciding race.

The Red Bull team principal also claimed their rivals resent the competition they face from an opponent they regard as “just an energy drinks company”.

The teams and their drivers will duel for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships this weekend at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton arrived at the circuit level on points, while Mercedes have a 28-point lead in the teams’ points standings.

Horner sees Red Bull in a ‘David versus Goliath’ fight with their manufacturer rival. He said his team’s global clout “pales into insignificance” compared to the size of the Mercedes, despite Red Bull’s significant resources and past successes.

“If you think of the size of Mercedes globally, they must be one of the biggest automotive companies in the world,” Horner said. “The power that they wield with media around the world, I think we pale into insignificance in comparison.”

He referred to comments Hamilton made about his team in a 2011 interview, when he drove for McLaren. “As Lewis Hamilton indeed called us – we’re ‘just an energy drinks company going racing’.”

“I think that Mercedes Formula 1 team, they’ve become a machine the last seven or eight years during their period of dominance and obviously have the weight and power of the parent company behind them,” Horner added.

He feels Red Bull’s success this season and his team’s ability to challenge Mercedes all the way to the final round of the season has been a source of irritation for their rivals.

“I can’t believe it’s particularly comfortable being beaten by an energy drinks manufacturer as a major OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and that’s never sat comfortably,” Horner suggested. “We know that. It’s been made quite clear to us.

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

Hamilton described Verstappen as “crazy” on his radio during the last race in Saudi Arabia when his rival forced him wide during one of their fights for position. He played down the remark yesterday.

“When we’re in the races, we will say all sorts of things because we are in the heat of the moment,” said Hamilton. “Adrenaline is firing, your emotions are on edge. So I would say that it’s a figure of speech. I think ultimately us racing drivers, we’re all a bit crazy to be able to do what we do and take the risks that we do.”

After a spate of run-ins between Verstappen and Hamilton from the middle of the season, Horner claims Hamilton has tried to play mind games on his rival through the public comments he has made.

“Lewis is a seven-time world champion, he’s the most successful driver of all time, he has a standing, obviously, within the sport,” said Horner. “What he says carries a lot of weight and I think that he has used every tool available to him to put Max under pressure this year. I believe – 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 that drives with bravery, with passion, with skill, with determination. 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. And 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.”

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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77 comments on “Mercedes “media machine” pushing narrative of “crazy” Verstappen – Horner”

  1. It’s not even the Mercedes media machine, but there is a definite, small hint of bias and over-reaction which would not be present in the predominant coverage of F1 if Hamilton was Dutch and Verstappen was English. Or, when someone like a former world-champion states that he feels Verstappen had a better season.

    1. #youreboringme.

  2. Nofanboysplease
    10th December 2021, 17:00

    Slam dunk. No comments, that says enough about the british bias

    1. Horner is British. Red Bull is pretty much British.

      1. Red Bull is Austrian…..

      2. And Horner has gone as crazy as crazy Verstappen. Horner forgets the media keep sharing his crazy commentary.

  3. Sky Sports F1 Christmas ad with Verstappen’s crash is disgusting.

    1. Indeed, but a prime example of framing.
      Disgusting to use those images, crashing at 51g with a merry Christmas text.

      1. I know, when they slo-mo’d Monza, I was like “Hamilton nearly died!”. Honestly, VER fans are funny.

    2. Jogo, but it is OK for members of the Dutch press to publish videos actively encouraging Max to take Hamilton out by deliberately crashing into him?

      1. What videos exactly? A relatively small country as Netherlands can be overexcited with their first big deal driver. Remember Jos the Boss army? And he was just fighting for some crumbs of points… I believe Max is a national hero there, some exaggeration is quite understandable.

        Anyway Sky Sports F1 should take more responsibility. Am I wrong or these guys are some sort of “official coverage crew”?

        1. lexusreliability?
          10th December 2021, 20:32


          How can excuse the Dutch media for encouraging cheating and lament the British media for a bit of bias? Talk about double standards

    3. They slo-mo’d Monza too, what’s your point?

      1. If you lack morals discussion with you will not solve that problem.

      2. Please dont respond to erik, Swifty. Let him continue to expose himself for what he is.

  4. Early in the season Mercedes were definitely rattled from having proper competition for the first time in the turbo/hybrid era. I think that came through in some of their performances in front of the media. Now, though? I think they are just, to use one of Horner’s recent comments, giving as good as they get.

    1. KEH?

      Mercedes and indeed Hamilton spent the majority of 17 and 18 behind Ferrari – and 19 was plenty tough.

      The fact that Mercedes stepped up at the end of those years and won is dissimilar to how they have this year albeit against a better end of year team.

      1. Similar not dissimilar

  5. It’s not just Mercedes. A lot of media has carried themselves as vultures hoping for casualties to feed their hunger for sensation and clicks… It’s all quite discusting and then there are the corrupt stewards like Connelly. Even though F1 is growing in popularity it’s not developing into something to enjoy but instead becomes a nasty and backstabbing affair.

  6. I don’t know if I’d agree with that. Personally I think ‘You can get out of Max’s way or crash’ from Horner takes some beating. Selling your driver as ‘Mad Max’ probably doesn’t help either.
    But let’s hope he drops the ‘young kid’ line next year. Gonna look pretty stupid when one of the guys Max is dicing with at the front is not only younger, but isn’t in his 7th season as Max will be.

    1. I do not think the ” creepy Lewis” denomination will help you there.

  7. Maybe Max should try giving them fewer examples to use?

    1. Smoke doesn’t come out of thin air, they blow fire in to max we see the smokes. Then they complain about people noticing the smoke coming of the fire of max that they the self carefully fed into. Some great hypocricy from Horner never fails.

    2. It’s simple right – race ON the track. Honestly, it amazes that people think he’s got race craft.

      1. What an insane comment. If Verstappen does not have race craft neither does any other driver on the grid.

  8. RBR did start with the better car. There was a bit of back and forth. The result at Mexico was huge. At that point RBR must have thought they were on their way. At the end of June I thought it was their championship to lose.

    Then the tables turned at Brazil and the language from RBR and Max changed. They had the wind knocked out of them and they stopped looking like a winning team.

    The last interview from Horner was someone who has lost a fair bit of confidence.

    What we don’t know is how the cost cap has affected the teams. Money used to be no object when a problem cropped up.

    It was a huge cost for both teams with the Bottas Russel crash and the Silverstone crash.

    Then there was the rear wing changes.

    There have been other incidents that all adds up and takes away from development effort coupled with the reduction in actual development time allowed and possibly further exacerbated with teams having to reduce staff numbers.

    1. The tables turned in Brazil? That’s one way to put it! Another would be that Merc clearly started using a unique (and therefore illegal) PU and RBR knew it was over. We know the sport can’t police these PUs (Ferrari were never proven guilty) and Merc’s customers are contract bound to not contest their own units. Mclaren asking if they can vote independent from Merc tells you everything you need to know about the control Merc have over their customers.

      You also forgot to mention Merc taking a Pirelli tyre home with them and how well the subsequent reissued construction has worked on the Merc since…

      1. I needed a good laugh. Cheers 🍻

      2. @asherway Why do you feel the need to waste everyone time with barefaced lies?

      3. Give your head a wobble

  9. Posting “news items” that Kelly Piquet (Max’s GF) cheated on him is also highly suspicious and despicable…

    1. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
      10th December 2021, 17:48

      Do you remember the coverage around Lewis and Nicole Sherzinger

    2. They did far worse to Lewis with Nicole Scherzinger. And Schumacher’s family after skiing accident. Or did you start following F1 just recently?

  10. As if Red Bull’s media machine hasn’t built Verstappen public image from day one, serving their interests, destroying a few good drivers along the way …
    C’mon…enough speculation from all sides. Let’s get into action. Real life has become like Netflix

    1. What else are they supposed to do? Insult their employee?

  11. Horner bears much of the blame. He argued that Hamilton was driving recklessly at Silverstone and spent time creating a video to show it. Horner seas setting the standard for what is reckless. Max’s adventures off track meet and exceed the Silverstone activity.

    1. He argued that Hamilton was driving recklessly at Silverstone

      and the stewards concurred with that and penalised Lewis.

      1. Horner sought additional penalties at the following race because missing the apex was reckless even though Hamilton remained on the track. Horner believes the 10 second penalty is not adequate when a driver does not leave room on the track.

        1. Lets not forget the “he put our guy in hospital” comments. What kind of narrative around Lewis was he trying to create there?

          1. One justified by hams reckless driving.

          2. A disgusting one over a basic racing incident, 2 into 1 doesn’t go, Verstappen both verstappen and Hamilton could have pulled out of the move. Horner is like an angry white guy politician that barks more than getting any work done

        2. Please let erik argue with himself. We dont need to encourage his strange outlook on F1, especially this weekend.

          1. Please let erik argue with himself. We dont need to encourage his strange outlook on F1, especially this weekend.

            This website needs an Ignore function.

  12. “Turn 1 was mega. I mean Max, that was full Max Verstappen – he was just going for it – and he positioned the car fantastically well,” said Horner after the Spanish GP. “He tucked in, he got a little bit of a tow and a bit of momentum. And yeah he just braked later and ran the car wide. Thankfully Lewis had got out of it because otherwise he would have ended up in the fence,” he added.

    This was Horner’s exact quote after Spanish GP (emphasis mine). He and his team actually pushed that narrative as a selling point for Verstappen all year long and young Verstappen as he puts it, got validated and kept getting progressively worse with his over-the-top defences with Jeddah being the most egregious.

    Now he’s surpised that the agenda that he and his team has been pushing for the whole year has come back and bit him and has started to whine. You sow what you reap sir!

    1. You reap what you sow rather :-)

      1. You sew what you reep after the Spanish GP.

    2. Quote of the year! Could not be more explicit.
      Horner used to be an annoying mouth flapper with quotes like that he is becoming disgusting.

    3. well said.
      I would add that Max seems unable of critical introspection and will never be able to mend his ways.

  13. Just shows how little Horner really knows. If it all about works teams then why haven’t Renault won more titles and considering the money Ferrari receives why haven’t they won 50% of all championships.
    And if Horner had been doing his job, he would have taught Verstappen that winning the war (championship) is the aim not each individual battle (race) or skirmish (corner).
    Just think the stewards said Hamilton was most guilty at Silverstone because he was going too fast to make the corner, therefore if Verstappen had pulled away from the racing line, Hamilton probably would have had to give the place back. And Verstappen would have a sizable points advantage going into this race.
    Plus if Verstappen hadn’t been so aggressive at Monza as well then he would already be champion.

    1. Just shows how little Horner really knows.

      Thank god, we have you. Our own keyboard warrior.

  14. Hello pot, meet kettle :)

  15. I try to ignore him now. It’s just a shame he’ll be around for a few years after this one. Bringing up quotes from Hamilton from ten years ago is also pretty desperate.

    I actually tried to imagine the backlash Hamilton would have got had he brake tested Max like that. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.

    1. If Max like Lewis knew when to hold them and knew when to fold them he would be comfortably ahead in point at this moment.

      1. So true. It is a shame because Max is the biggest talent we have seen since Lewis burst onto the F1 scene in 07.
        Lewis was a bit ” all ornothing” back then too but nowhere near to the extent Max is. Lewis learned relatively quickly that it pays to hold back sometimes. He now has a very good judgement on when to hold or fold as you put it. Lewis is no angel by any stretch of the imagination, but he is the cleanest multiple champion we have seen for many many years. He goes to the very limit of what is allowed but rarely goes over that limit while racing. Max? Not so much

  16. … while, “Oh golly gee whillakers we’re just wrenchin’ our cars together in the back room of a bodega here, and just don’t have no fancy media machine like Mercedes. We’re just a-cryin’ in the streets over how they done us wrong again and again.”

  17. I was watching this documentary on RBR’s rise from the broke Jaguar F1 team to champions, and it’s an incredible story that probably doesn’t get enough coverage. Or maybe it got enough in 2010-2013 and no one cares as much now. But their entire M.O., and that of Dietrich Mateschitz in building his drinks brand, is all about having a chip on your shoulder, being scrappy, “disrupting,” so this is just staying on message. Christian Horner is just such a hard core company man, just vibing so much with this company’s ethic, I feel like any time he’s going to pull off a rubber mask and reveal himself as the elusive Mr. Mateschitz himself.

  18. Slightly off topic but as an example of why I’ve left both this site and other larger sites that seem to be a brewing ground for toxicity at the moment, I’ve been made aware by a friend of the following exchange on the BBC Sport comments this morning:

    “I wish we’d fought in the 70s with lower safety standards as Max would be long dead by now”

    Followed by a reply:

    “If we’d raced in the 70s Lewis would be dead for racial reasons”

    (BTW I’m all for acknowledging our racist history as a country but there’s got to be a better way of doing so than that)

    Both disgusting, unnecessary comments.

  19. @dmw
    I think also the story of RasenBallsport Leipzig the most hated German football club known as RB Leipzig or informally as Red Bull Leipzig and how Red Bull got around the strict rules despite being vetoed in multiple occasions just shows the company culture.

  20. If anyone has built up the ‘Mad Max’ image its is Horner, Marko and Jos Verstappen. Mercedes climbed on board that train after Brazil it is true but the temptation was too great to resist.

    Today was The Horner Show on Sky again and it showed a man largely trying to moderate his earlier aggressive and poisonous spin. Has the real boss had a word? Poor sportsmanship might sell to rabid fans of an errant driver but not to the millions who buy RedBull every day. If they will cheat and bully on the track what might they do elsewhere?

    Sponsorship is a risky business as Mercedes just found but when the ‘sponsor’ owns the team outright its very sticky stuff.

    Oh, and read nothing into practice except the wheels stayed on and Bottas burns his tyres. They were all playing around with engine modes, fuel loads and towing as Hamilton admitted to see how close he could follow.

  21. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    10th December 2021, 19:36

    What did Horner say after Spain?

    “That was pure Max Verstappen! It’s a good job Lewis got out of it otherwise there would have been an almighty crash!”

    To David Coulthard, after the race. Who’s been pushing the crazy narrative?

  22. Just sounds like Horner getting his excuses lined up should Max lose, to be honest.

  23. geoffgroom44 (@)
    10th December 2021, 19:51

    In response to this headline: “actions speak louder than words”.Max’s actions create the narrative.

  24. This guys is an absolute joke. Firstly he continues to state what a miracle it is to get this far and to compete with Mercs after 7 years of domination. Now he is playing the underdog position by calling itself ‘just a drinks company’ with a races who is just 24. Redbull has one of the largest budgets with Ferrari and Mercs. And wasn’t Max the one who always said that although he’s young, he’s been racing like forever.

    Instead of coaching his talented young driver, he’s feeding the toxic environment and pointing at the others. It’s always someone to blame. Right Christian and Max?

  25. It is also very interesting the fact that I recently read a very similar statement from old Bernie, so similar..

  26. I think it’s really unfortunate that the good title fight that most fans want, is coming at the expense of good racing. Max’s lack of sportsmanship and inability to race cleanly for position over the last races has taken away something else most fans want. Good, clean wheel to wheel exchanges with positions taken by drivers with the best control of their machine. Not the least. I definitely don’t need the media to tell me who’s crazy in this context. Or Horner’s lyin’ eyes.

  27. I think Horner has pretty much turned into the most exasperating, dreary thing in the entire F1 world. He may even have overtaken the exceptionally dull tribal arguments that have taken over F1 social media as the one thing I’d most like to see the back of.

  28. To quote the great Bob Marley “who the cap fit, let them wear it”.

  29. lmao. If your boy wasn’t trying to kill Hamilton last race, maybe the media wouldn’t be calling him ‘mad max’, eh chris boy ?

  30. Wow lots of extremists in the comments section. Remember it’s okay to have a nuanced point of view that changes with new information.

  31. It’s not gonna work Christian

  32. Of course Mercedes is working on all levels: on track, politics and press. And they are very good at it. It probably helps they have a magnificent lead driver that is not only British (in a UK dominated sport) but also the reigning champions that mostly are favored in sport in general.

    It is what it is, it doesn’t really matter now. This is the last race and may the best one win.

  33. The Same people who will try very hard to ridicule Sir L Hamilton at any opportunity are crying foul. Last week Verstappen was throwing all insinuations about Lewis dress code. The crazy old man Mr H Marko also did the same in the recent past. Tried to ridicule LH44 again about making a mistake, only to be found wanting and blamed the engineers.

    So Horner, take the punches as you expect others to absorb them.

  34. Karen Spice! Get over yerself!
    Vera Slapems a nutter end of!

  35. It’s true. Merc and ham have created this sickly sweet butter wouldn’t melt public image, while giving a subtle nudge and kick under the table with a smile on their faces.

    Max has done incredibly well to bat this off and keep his cool, especially in interviews.

  36. So much national bias, so much fan bias, but I ask all of you here one simple question. What the heck would you do if you were fighting for such a title? Would you be willing to break the rules like both Verstappen and Hamilton definitely are, or you’d be nice and polite, thinking of good conduct and nice manners? If you’re sure you wouldn’t fight like they do, why the heck are you acting all weird and angry, judging either of these two guys?

    1. *if you’re not sure

      Anyway, start being honest with yourselves, it’s so easy just do the talking and all the talking. Most people would kill each other over a simple promotion at a desk job, but none seem to understand the pressure of F1.

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