Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes Max Verstappen would have eased away from Lewis Hamilton if his race wasn't ended on the opening lap of the British GP.
The Dutchman took the first Sprint Qualifying event on Saturday and looked set for another strong finish after starting on pole for Sunday's race. However Verstappen's race was over after less than a lap after Hamilton tagged him from behind, a move Horner insists was not characteristic of a World Champion.
"Copse is an incredibly high speed corner, one of the biggest corners on the F1 calendar as any driver will tell you, and one to be respected," Horner told Red Bull's official website. "When you look at the incident closely, Max took a wider line into Copse compared to Leclerc when Hamilton overtook him in the race.
"Hamilton braked late and overshot the corner. He was travelling at such a speed that he was never going to make the apex of the corner and his trajectory through Copse meant he was never going to miss Max, even with braking he ran very wide after the accident.
"Had Max made it through Copse, I don't think Hamilton would have seen him again that afternoon as he learned in the previous day’s Sprint Race. No matter how experienced or talented, all drivers experience a build-up of pressure at times and this was a moment of extreme pressure for Hamilton in the championship, becoming the hunter as opposed to the hunted, and in front of his home crowd who saw him defeated the previous day at a track that has always been a Mercedes stronghold.
"We all know that these situations can bring out a different driving style and one that is not characteristic of a world champion, but it is at these times that we see the increased risk."
Verstappen escaped the accident without any major injuries, though it will cost $1.8 million to fix his car, and Horner expects his driver to be extra motivated when the F1 season resumes in Hungary next weekend.
"As for Max, despite being battered and bruised, he will be more motivated on-track and the positives we can take from the weekend are that last year, we qualified a second off Mercedes," Horner added. "This year, we were within a tenth.
"We had a faster race car and we were able to beat them in the Sprint Race which shows that the team’s monumental effort with the support of Honda, has allowed us to close the gap to the seven time world champions and the pressure is on them."
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