SPIELBERG, Austria, Jul 1 – Red Bull team chief Christian Horner hailed Max Verstappen’s victory in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix as a “dream result” and praised the maturity of the young Dutchman.
His win, his first this year, was the team’s first at their “home” race and came in front of a big crowd including a 20,000-strong “Orange army” of Dutch fans.
“Hats off to him,” said Horner. “It was a really mature drive because the tyres were so crucial with the blisters and everything that is going on — he just managed to keep those temperatures down and managed it all the way through.
“He was keeping the rear left cooler than the rear right and the left here is the one that takes all the load. He was constantly asking for information and managing those tyres — and that is why they didn’t blister up.
“It is a dream result at the Red Bull Ring, a Red Bull car and Max driving an unbelievable race — and it was absolutely nailed in the first lap.”
Verstappen started from fourth on the grid but took full advantage as the front-row-starting Mercedes duo of pole-sitter Finn Valtteri Bottas and Briton Lewis Hamilton were both forced to retire.
Horner added that Verstappen drove with experience beyond his years in keeping the two Ferraris of Finn Kimi Raikkonen and German Sebastian Vettel, who took over as championship leader, at bay.
“It was tougher than it looked because I had to be on top of my tyres,” said Verstappen. “They were opening up. I knew Kimi was three or four tenths quicker…The win was very unexpected, which makes it even better.
“I just tried to do my best race possible. If you’re first, second or third, it’s not always in your hands…If you’re calm, it’s better. The early contact with Kimi helped me a lot. It gave me that five or six seconds.
“And with the fans, it was incredible. When you start leading the race, they start cheering you on. The orange smoke was coming as well. It was an amazing weekend.”
His Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo endured a frustrating race on his 29th birthday, retiring due to a broken exhaust.
“This is the sport I signed up for as a kid,” he said but added that: “If I could live my youth again, I would probably change it! I’m disappointed how the day went. Is it too late to start my MMA career? I’m out of contract so maybe I will swap sports altogether.”