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‘I’ve never heard Lewis Hamilton recognise Max Verstappen’s ability’: Red Bull chief Christian Horner believes the British star was left ‘rattled’ by his arch rival last year during their tense battle for the title

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Red Bull chief Christian Horner claims he has never heard Lewis Hamilton praise the ability of his arch rival Max Verstappen.

The pair were involved in one of Formula One’s most tense and toxic battles for the world championship last season, one that saw the Dutchman snatch the title in controversial circumstances in the final race at Abu Dhabi.

While the title went in the Red Bull star’s favour due to infamous decisions under the safety car that handicapped Hamilton, the season had already seen a high amount of incidents that only stoked the tension between two of F1’s finest stars.

The pair collided at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on the first lap putting Verstappen out the race, while another crash at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix led to both cars retiring.

Verstappen was then accused of brake-testing his rival late on in the season at Saudi Arabia, and there were numerous incidents of the duo pushing the limits while overtaking each other all season.

It marks a contrast to this campaign where Mercedes’ inability to challenge Red Bull has enabled Verstappen to stroll towards likely back-to-back titles.

Verstappen was challenged early on by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc but despite them also dueling hard on the track, Horner believes their years racing against each other in the past has helped build a healthy respect for each other’s talents.

‘You know, there’s a difference, there’s perhaps a different respect with Charles,’ Horner said on the Beyond the Grid podcast.

‘They raced each other since [being] kids, and there was a mutual respect. I’ve never once ever heard Lewis recognise Max’s ability.

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‘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.’

Horner also believes that a big part of last year’s championship battle was psychological and that it had affected the seven time world champion to a greater extent than Verstappen.

‘I think arguably, maybe more so in Lewis’ head,’ he added.

‘Because 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.

‘Some of his overtaking last year was stunning and you felt that started to rattle Lewis, I think.’

Horner then referred back to the infamous crash at Silverstone where Verstappen and Hamilton battled furiously for position on the first lap before Hamilton crashed into his rival, allowing him to win in front of his home fans while Verstappen spun off at high speed into a barrier that saw him taken to hospital.

‘We definitely saw after Lewis qualified on pole at Silverstone and Max won the sprint race you saw Lewis, he was a bit broken after the sprint race,’ he continued.

‘Had Max made it through Copse [corner], I don’t think they’d have seen him again that afternoon, so there was an air of desperation building in as well.

‘It was high stakes stuff and your emotions run high, but it probably affected Lewis arguably more than Max because, as I say, he’d got more to lose than Max. Max had everything to gain.’

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Red Bull say they face ‘massive challenge’ to ready power unit for 2026 rule changes

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Red Bull are hard at work preparing their own power unit for Formula 1’s next engine regulation changes – which will come into play in 2026 – with the team’s Technical Director, Pierre Wache, outlining the significant task that lies ahead.

Red Bull Powertrains (RBPT) was formed last year to take on the running of Honda’s power units before becoming a manufacturer in their own right from the 2026 season – the Milton Keynes-based F1 operation joining Ferrari in housing both chassis and engine divisions on one campus.

Amid milestones such as a first RBPT dyno test being ticked off, Wache explained that Red Bull face a “very deep” learning curve to arrive on the scene with a power unit capable of challenging current manufacturers Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault – but he has faith that they will ultimately get the job done.

“From what I see – it is outside of my area, to be honest with you, my concentration at the moment is more on the current championship – it’s clearly a massive challenge, even more when you start from scratch like they are doing,” said Wache.

“You put everything in place, you see the building they have put together, the number of dynos, the number of people they have now. In this area, the learning curve is very deep, but the lead-time for parts is very long. Then they have to try to catch those with more experience – like with a current engine supplier – and try to beat them.

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“It’s a massive challenge. I think they will manage to do it; from what I see, [with] the desire and motivation, the quality of the people we have in our team… I think it looks good.”

Alongside Red Bull Powertrains, the 2026 rule changes – which will see F1 power units maintain the current V6 internal combustion engine architecture but feature increased electrical power and 100% sustainable fuels – prompted German manufacturer Audi to commit to the sport as a supplier.

Offering the perspective of a current manufacturer, Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin expressed his firm belief that any new arrivals will understand the task ahead and work through any challenges.

“With Audi or Red Bull Powertrains, they know what that challenge will involve, so we would always expect that they’re going to come in with a good understanding of that and be resourced appropriately, and know how difficult it’s going to be,” he commented.

“From our point of view, this year you’ve got Ferrari with the most powerful power unit, maybe not the most reliable. But the benchmark will be very, very high, whether a newcomer comes in and sets that benchmark, or it’s one of the existing teams. We’ll work as hard as we need to, to try and make sure that we’re up there.”

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Lewis Hamilton offered Singapore Grand Prix hope by Mercedes as Toto Wolff frustrated

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Lewis Hamilton has been offered hope for next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix after Mercedes chief Toto Wolff explained that the Marina Bay Street circuit should suit the Silver Arrows. Hamilton came within a whisker of claiming a record eighth F1 world title last year but has been off the pace this time around and is currently sixth in the Drivers’ Championship standings. He is looking to maintain his 15-year record of winning at least one race every season.

“The track layout should suit our car, the bumps not,” Wolff said. “On the simulations, it says it should be one of our better tracks but I’m trying to stay on the careful side with any predictions for Singapore.”

Mercedes have won the last eight Constructors’ Championships but trail current leaders Red Bull by an incredible 176 points this year with just six races remaining. The Silver Arrows’ struggles became apparent at the start of the season after teams were forced to redesign their cars in the wake of a whole host of F1 regulation changes.

Red Bull and Ferrari have dealt with the changes much better than Mercedes, with Wolff’s team experiencing severe porpoising problems during some races. Hamilton, in particular, has found his new car difficult to manoeuvre in the same way he has managed in the past, while team-mate George Russell has experienced slightly better fortunes and has accumulated 35 more points than the seven-time champion this year.

Hamilton has made his views about his Mercedes car perfectly clear on a number of occasions this term. And at the end of May he implored his team to get to the bottom of the problems before they redesign their vehicle again when the season ends. “I think we’ve got to figure out what’s wrong with this car before we can make another car,” he said. “If we just started making another car we could easily get it wrong.

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“So I think it’s about getting on top of this one fully, which we still haven’t got on top of and then give us a guideline of where [to go]. There’s definitely loads of things that I would not want from this car onto next year’s car, so I’ve already put those in.”

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Lewis Hamilton takes up new view on beating Schumacher record as Verstappen nears title

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Lewis Hamilton has claimed there’s “a bigger picture” to being in F1 that doesn’t involve beating Michael Schumacher’s F1 record. The Mercedes star stressed the “journey is the most important part” and says he wanted to “elevate lots of people”.

However, the seven-time champion still admits he has one eye on surpassing Schumacher’s record. Hamilton has already secured seven world titles to match the German star’s record and won more races over his career.

The Briton came close to winning the eighth crown last season but lost to Max Verstappen after a late safety car at the Abu Dhabi season finale. Hamilton came close to winning other titles in 2007 and 2016 before losing out at the last race.

Speaking to F1.com, Hamilton explained: “Of course, the idea that no driver in history has ever gone past seven, you want to try and accomplish that. But I guess – as you get older – you realise the journey is the most important part and the ride that you do with all the people, and all the people that you bring with you, and all the people that you try to elevate.

“There’s an opportunity to elevate lots of people, not only in your team, but with the work that we’re doing, with Mission 44 – there’s a much bigger picture to it. But from a personal point of view, winning another world title continues to be a goal. I’ll be so proud to be able to do that for this team.”

Mercedes have been unable to challenge Red Bull and Ferrari this season as the Silver Arrows continue to lack pace. Hamilton went on a run of five back-to-back podium finishes between the Canadian and Hungarian Grand Prix.

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However, the Mercedes star has struggled since the summer break after crashing in Belgium and finishing outside the top three at the Dutch and Italian Grand Prix.

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Max Verstappen left Lewis Hamilton “rattled” as Christian Horner makes “desperate” claim

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Lewis Hamilton was “rattled” by the challenge of Max Verstappen last season and had to resort to “desperate” moves to stop the Dutchman, Christian Horner has claimed.

Verstappen would eventually win the title in highly controversial circumstances. But even before that dramatic finale, there were huge flashpoints including several on-track clashes as their title race turned sour.

Speaking on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Horner gave some insight into what the battle between the two drivers was like. Asked if each had succeeded in getting into the others’ head, he replied: “I think arguably more so in Lewis’ head, because he’s a seven-time world champion… he has everything to lose. Max is the young kid that’s taking the risks, that’s throwing everything at it and has got nothing to lose.”

One of the larger incidents involving the two title-chasers took place at the pritish grandPrix. The race at Silverstone was over on the first lap for Verstappen, whose Red Bull was clipped by Hamilton’s Mercedes, sending him into the tyre wall at Copse Corner at around 160mph.

That 51G impact saw the Dutchman taken to hospital as a precaution, though thankfully there was no lasting damage. Hamilton was given a 10-second time penalty for causing the crash, but he still went on to easily win the race.

Horner used that weekend as an example of his belief that Hamilton was the racer more affected by the other. He added: “Some of [Verstappen’s] overtaking last year was stunning and you felt that started to rattle Lewis.

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“You definitely saw when Lewis qualified on pole at Silverstone and Max won the sprint race, he was a bit broken after the sprint race. Had Max made it through Copse, I don’t think he would have seen him again after that. So there was an air of desperation building as well. It was high-stakes stuff and the emotions run high.”

This year Verstappen is again in the hunt for the title, but the competition hasn’t been nearly as stiff. Hamilton has been long out of the running amid Mercedes’ car issues, while the other main contender, Charles Leclerc, has been hampered by reliability issues and strategy mistakes made by his Ferrari team.

Whenever the two have been close on track, the fighting has been much more controlled with no real flashpoints between them. But the difference is not due to a lack of respect for Hamilton, Horner insists, adding: “There’s always been a respect, you can’t not respect everything Lewis has done and achieved, it’s quite remarkable and maybe never to be bettered.

“But everybody is beatable at some point in time and Max had respect for him, but he wasn’t in awe of him. He wasn’t afraid of them, he relished going up against him and the opportunity to go wheel-to-wheel racing with him. He believed that he could beat him, and it was that inner belief and self-confidence that we saw on so many occasions come through.”

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Ferrari under extra pressure from boasting over history as Red Bull “get on with racing”

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Ferrari have been told they are not helping themselves to fulfil their current potential by making a big deal out of their Formula 1 history.

Their red cars have been an iconic part of the sport through the decades. The Italian team has been competing in F1 since 1950, when the world championship was first set up, and have been involved in many memorable moments since.

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Naturally, they are very proud of their history as a result and rarely spurn an opportunity to celebrate it. That was clear once again at Monza last weekend, as Ferrari celebrated their 75th anniversary by adding a splash of yellow to their car liveries and race suits.

But they day still belonged to Red Bull in the end, as Max Verstappen won the race despite a five-place grid penalty. And Formula E driver Sam Bird suggested the Italians are putting extra pressure on themselves compared to their Red Bull rivals by making a song and dance about their past accomplishments.

“Ferrari has this vast history,” the driver told the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast. “There was a celebration of, what was it? 75 years this weekend? And we saw going through the paddock an enormous amount of people going into the Ferrari hospitality, then back into the garage.

“There is an enormous amount of pressure there in order to deliver. Since when do you ever see that at Red Bull? You see, obviously, Dr. [Helmut] Marko there and [Red Bull owner Dietrich] Mateschitz there occasionally, and you’ve got the boss there, Christian Horner, but there’s no celebration of anniversaries

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“You’re going to have the president [at Ferrari], and you’ve got this person and that person there. It’s just [Red Bull] get on with the racing, and they go and win races. And that’s it. Maybe that’ll be different in the future. But, for right now, I think Ferrari is under a lot of pressure because of their history as well.”

Red Bull have all but secured both titles this season with six races to go, with Verstappen on a five-race winning streak. He has been helped by his team finding some extra performance compared to Ferrari, who are unsure why they have slipped behind a little.

“The pure performance is still there, but then with the race pace, we are suffering tyre degradation,” said team boss Mattia Binotto. “In that respect, I think the Red Bull is a better car, so they’ve been capable of developing that car for a better balance that we didn’t. The reason? I think it is something that we are looking at, because we need to address it. If not for this season, certainly for the next one.”

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