MEXICO CITY — Max Verstappen’s performance at the Mexican Grand Prix was enough to justify his new Red Bull contract on its own, according to team boss Christian Horner.
Verstappen dominated the Mexican Grand Prix after beating Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to the lead of the race at the second corner of the first lap. With the Ferrari and Mercedes colliding behind him at Turn 3, he then led unchallenged for 71 laps before crossing the line for his third career victory.
The win comes just one week after Red Bull signed Verstappen until the end of the 2020 season and Horner believes the team’s decision has been immediately vindicated.
“It justifies why we were keen to extend the relationship with him, but it was probably his most straight forward race yet with this team,” he said. “The big challenge in the race was trying to slow him down, not speed him up, which is very unusual!
“I think he got a bit bored out there! We kept trying to slow him down and he was getting a bit frustrated because he couldn’t go any slower. He loves wheel-to-wheel racing and what he did in the first two turns, you could see after qualifying yesterday that he turned up at this race track and wanted to win this race more than any other driver out there.”
Mercedes believed Hamilton had the pace to win the race had he not received a puncture and extensive damage in the first-lap clash with Vettel, but Horner is confident Verstappen would have had the edge.
“Absolutely, he lapped Lewis and was closing in on Sebastian [to lap him] and was taking it very easy, so the pace we had in race trim was the most competitive we have been all year.”
Mexico was Verstappen’s second win of the season after a run of appalling luck through the middle of the year.
“He had such a rough summer,” Horner added. “Every day something was going wrong for him when he was in great positions and he’s not let his head drop. I said to him before we came into this last section to forget everything else and treat these last few races like a mini championship. It’s a seven race championship and just enjoy going racing.
“I think he’s done that, things have gone right for him and the results have come for him. His confidence in the car is there and you can see some of the slow-motion shots look fantastic.”