“A No Bullsh*t Racer” – Horner Recalls How Max Verstappen Shocked Them on His Red Bull F1 Debut

Published 06/30/2021, 6:30 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 20, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates with team principle Christian Horner after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Nicolas Tucat


At just 23 years of age, Max Verstappen has already cemented himself as one of the best drivers in Formula One today. Despite the current F1 grid hosting four world champions, the Dutchman is ruling the roost in 2021, with 18 points separating him and defending champion, Lewis Hamilton, in the drivers’ championship.

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Ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner spoke about Max’s attitude while recalling his debut with the team in 2016.

Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen has his feet on the ground

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Verstappen made his F1 debut with Toro Rossso back in 2015, aged 17. This made him the youngest ever driver to debut in F1, which he will remain due to the FIA changing the minimum age limit to 18.

In 2016, Red Bull switched the Dutchman for Daniil Kvyat during the season, after which he remained with the team. Despite multiple failed attempts to challenge for the world title, he finally has a competitive package this season to go the distance.

Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg , Styria, Austria – June 26, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen wearing a protective face mask during a press conference after qualifying in pole position FIA/Handout via REUTERS

Appearing on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Horner revealed that it’s Verstappen’s attitude makes him a great driver. He said, “I remember he was only 17 when he joined us. So, the difference between 17 and 23 is a big percentage of a young person’s life. I think the maturity and experience he has now, he’s got his feet on the ground.

“He’s just a no bullsh*t racer. That’s all he cares about, that’s all he wants to do. You know when you put him in the car, he’s gonna give you 110%. That’s what makes him so exciting to watch.”

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Horner recalls “surreal” Verstappen debut in 2016 at Barcelona

Although Verstappen barely spent time in the Red Bull car prior to the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, he took an impressive victory in his first race with them. Horner revealed his performance amazed the team that day, especially since his then-teammate Daniel Ricciardo was on a better strategy.

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He said, “We were thinking, ‘How the hell did he do that?’ Because we thought we put Daniel on the better strategy and Max managed to convert a one-stop into a win. And I remember it was the most surreal thing.

“He never even sat in the car before the weekend. We just chucked him straight in and boom, first victory.”

The Briton will hope his Dutch driver can continue his winning form in their home race this weekend. Although Mercedes are no pushovers, it seems Red Bull carry all the aces at the moment.

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WATCH STORY: Mad Max: Verstappen’s Angriest Rants on Team Radio

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Sanket Nair

324 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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