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Christian Horner

Horner: Mercedes have the car, but we have Verstappen

Christian Horner has lavished praise on Max Verstappen, saying his driving has kept Red Bull in the fight for the title.

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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Red Bull's Christian Horner has said that having Max Verstappen on his team is keeping them in the fight for the World Championships, despite Mercedes seemingly holding a small car advantage.

With Verstappen and Hamilton level on points in the Drivers' Championship, Horner heaped praise on Verstappen for his driving this season as the Dutchman gears up to bid for his maiden title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

"It's gonna be very tough," Horner admitted to Sky Sport Italy, when asked about Mercedes' recent pace.

"They have the form, they have the pace in their car at the moment, but we have Max Verstappen, and we have a great team - we need one big, final push."

Praise for Verstappen

Without prompting, Horner explained the contribution Verstappen has made to Red Bull this season and the qualities he has brought to the team.

"What makes Max so great is the way that he drives. He drives with his heart, he drives with aggression, determination, and that's what got him into a position to be level on points with arguably the greatest driver of all time, certainly statistically," Horner said.

"Max has come under a lot of scrutiny, he's come under massive pressure and, for a just-turned 24-year-old young man, the way that he's dealt with that pressure and he's dealt with the criticism, the scrutiny... he's shown such mental resilience to deal with that.

"We're tremendously proud of him, we're tremendously proud of the way he's conducted himself this year and, without him, we wouldn't be in this situation. We wouldn't be fighting for this championship this weekend.

"Has he been harshly treated? The spotlight probably shines more brightly on him, some of the decisions this year have felt tough. But that's the way it is. We have to live with that and we've got to do our best to get the job done on the track."

Title decider no different to other races

Horner explained that, despite the pressure on the team for this weekend's race, as they square off against Hamilton and Mercedes, Red Bull will be coming out swinging.

"The mood is good, [we're] excited to be in this position," he commented.

"It's eight years since anybody has been challenging [Mercedes]. Everybody in the team has come here fully fired up, we've got a chance in both championships, but we're tied in the Drivers' Championship.

"We've got one shot and we're going to go for it. [It's] no different to any other race. It should be treated like any other Grand Prix and we'll approach it like any other race in this 22-race calendar."

Video: Check out the sports cars Verstappen drives away from the track!

While Max Verstappen is most known for his performances in a Red Bull F1 car, his passion for motorsport can be seen in what he drives when he's away from the track.

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