Published: Thu, February 07, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Christian Horner feels Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel fear Max Verstappen

Christian Horner feels Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel fear Max Verstappen

Hamilton claimed his fifth World Drivers' Championship in October by finishing fourth in the Mexico Grand Prix, a race won by none other than Verstappen and finished the season 88 points ahead of the runner-up, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

He said: "Max, if you look at his performance in the second half of the (last) year, was the second-highest points scorer to Lewis".

"In the next 12 months, I still think, and everyone would say this, that Mercedes and Ferrari are still the teams to beat". I think it's there now from both sides - the team and the engine supplier.

But Horner expressed his confidence that the Dutchman, who became the sport's youngest victor when he won the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix at the age of 18, would be their heir apparent.

Ahead of the launch of Red Bull's new auto on February 13, and the start of pre-season testing in Spain on February 18, the team still does not know where it stacks up against its main opposition.

"He's just much more rounded through experience", the Briton continued.

"He's just more worldly, more experienced".

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Verstappen hit the headlines after Brazil, when he was ordered to do two days of public service for shoving French driver Esteban Ocon after the collision.

The 21-year-old was forced by governing body the FIA to attend a race of the all-electric Formula E series and observe the stewards.

"So I find it a really exciting time for myself and I'm really looking forward to starting, and we will see how I perform straight away. Not that he was particularly impressed by Formula E, but he came way from being with the stewards and said: 'Crikey, these guys have got hard decisions to make in terms of do they impose a penalty or do they not'".

Verstappen and Red Bull-Honda aim to become consistent pace-setters this season and therefore genuine candidates for the title.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says the indicators are that Honda has had a strong winter of power unit development and will help the team progress compared to 2018. "Communication has been very honest and very open about areas of strength and weakness".

"Of course it depends on the strength of the competition, but on their own data, Honda has made some nice progress", Horner added.

"Effectively we've been paying for a first class ticket and you get an economy seat", he said of the last three seasons with Renault.

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