Horner Praises Verstappen’s Outspoken Nature

Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Ryan Ashenhurst
Contributor

The Dutch courage that is usually awakened by several pints hitting the deep recesses of our reserved, cold British souls is naturally on the tip of Max Verstappen’s tongue. The Dutch wonderkid quickly settled effectively into his role as a Red Bull driver on track, but amongst other established drivers around the paddock, Verstappen sometimes collided.

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 15: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates his first F1 win with Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and the rest of the Red Bull Racing team during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 15: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates his first F1 win with Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and the rest of the Red Bull Racing team during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner offered an Orwellian reason for Verstappen’s verbal wars with the likes of Vettel and others.

“It’s very refreshing, it’s very healthy in the sport. Perhaps people get a little bit too much into corporate speak.

Both of our drivers are honest, open individuals. That’s why they’re so engaging for the fans and why their following has grown exponentially this year compared to many other drivers on the grid.”

– Christian Horner

The corporate speak that Horner mentions is a widespread endemic in Motorsport with driver’s having to deal with ambassadorial aspects on behalf of sponsors, who sometimes can only be appeased if the signal to the viewer at home is one that suggests the driver is essentially owned by the company backing them.

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 15:  Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates his first F1 win with the Red Bull Racing team in parc ferme during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 15: Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing celebrates his first F1 win with the Red Bull Racing team in parc ferme during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

For example, in the British Touring Car Championship next season, how many times will Mat Jackson be thanking Shredded Wheat for his inevitable victories? I’m not saying Shredded Wheat won’t have anything to do with Jackson’s victories, just that the viewer isn’t fooled into believing that Jackson couldn’t win with a belly-full of Weetabix either just because he name-drops as soon as he’s out the car. For any driver who has been on the racing ladder for a while, it becomes procedural. This isn’t an issue so long as the driver also has scope for self-expression.

Back to F1 and Christian Horner believes that Verstappen’s self-expression in 2016 and his reluctance to concede a telling off from established drivers isn’t enough in itself for criticism.

“He is doing a great job and driving the wheels off the car and he is racing hard. When sometimes a new guy comes along and upsets the establishment a bit then they do get a bit of criticism.

He is not rising to that, he is keeping his head down and enjoying his racing. Anything that destabilises an established pecking order is always not well received.”

– Christian Horner

MONTMELO, SPAIN - MAY 15: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer leads Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 15: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer leads Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 15, 2016 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

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