Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global
Formula 1 Japanese GP

Horner: "Fired up" Verstappen told me he would win F1 Japanese GP by 20 seconds

Red Bull Formula 1's Christian Horner revealed Max Verstappen had predicted his 20-second Japanese Grand Prix winning margin during a padel game, having been "fired up" by his Singapore loss.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, arrives on the podium

Verstappen crushed the opposition in Suzuka by taking his 13th victory of the season from pole by 19.3 seconds over McLaren's Lando Norris.

The result secured Red Bull's sixth constructors' title on the home circuit of its power unit partner Honda and also moved Verstappen to the brink of a third straight drivers' championship.

The win came one week after Red Bull's first defeat of 2023 in an off-kilter Singapore Grand Prix, where Verstappen finished fifth after qualifying outside the top 10.

Amid suggestions that an FIA technical directive introduced from Singapore had somehow dented Red Bull's form, Verstappen's win was an emphatic display of the contrary, with the Dutchman saying doubters could "go suck on an egg" after taken pole.

Team boss Horner provided further evidence of how "fired up" Verstappen was to set the record straight after his Singapore loss.

"I played padel tennis with Max on Wednesday and he was properly fired up and he said: 'I want to win the race by 20 seconds'," Horner revealed on Sunday evening.

"And in fairness, he came within 0.7s of achieving that.

"You could tell from the very first lap in FP1 where on the hard tyre, he was 1.8 seconds quicker than the rest of the field on medium or soft tyres at that point, he was totally focused on this event. 

"It was an outstanding performance. His final lap in qualifying has got to be up there with one of the best laps of all time in qualifying.

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, the Red Bull Racing team celebrate victory in the race and securing the 2023 Constructors title

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, the Red Bull Racing team celebrate victory in the race and securing the 2023 Constructors title

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

"And then he converted that after not the best of getaways, but he was able to hang on to the lead and then thereafter build a very commanding lead and control the race."

When asked if it was the interruption of his winning streak or all the noise around Red Bull's form and the technical directive that was behind Verstappen having an extra spring in his step in Japan, Horner said: "He is just a racer, and he doesn't need a lot of motivation. But he said he came here very keen to re-establish the season that he's been having.

"You could see that competitive spirit at its absolute utmost this weekend from lap one in FP1.

"We all left Singapore knowing that ultimately, the winning run that we had would come to an end, but a little frustrated."

Read Also:

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation

Related video

Previous article Mercedes: Team orders all about protecting Hamilton despite “no sense” criticism
Next article How Verstappen’s crushing Japanese GP win showed Singapore was a blip

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global Global