Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes that Max Verstappen is stronger than he has ever been, as the Dutchman enters the final two races of a year-long title battle against Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen has a slender eight-point lead over Hamilton entering the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend, but Horner has no doubts that his driving won't be to blame if he falls short of the championship.
"Make no mistake, fighting for your first F1 title is an intense moment in your racing career, but the maturity Max has shown throughout the campaign has been extremely impressive," Horner wrote in his latest column for the Red Bull website.
"He's relaxed and dealing with the pressure incredibly well. I think he is driving better than ever.
"A good example of this was during the race in Qatar when he did not feel we could catch Lewis, but commented over the radio he 'wanted to have some fun'.
"Max is plain-speaking and he calls it how he sees it. He doesn't work with a sports psychologist; it is just how he copes with it."
"We only worry about what we control"
With Mercedes usually having the titles wrapped up by this point of the season, Horner is thrilled to reach the final races in a position where Red Bull can still win them.
"Fighting for two World Championships is exactly what we've worked hard for," he commented.
"We're going into the last few races and it's extremely close. Max is just eight points ahead in the Drivers' Championship and [we're] five points behind in the Constructors' - in previous years we'd have bitten your arm off to be in this position at this point in the championship.
"We want to be up at the top fighting for titles and, while it has been an intense year, the pressure is something we put on ourselves. With the benefit of experience, we only worry about the things we can control, rather than the things we can't, especially while the stakes are high."
He added: "I have really enjoyed this championship and the fact we've been able to take the fight to Mercedes and Lewis. It's been a phenomenal season to date.
"Some people thrive under pressure and some people shy away from it, but I've always felt I have performed at my best under pressure and that doesn't feel any different to any other campaign.
"Off circuit, there has been a bit more distraction, but when the green light comes on, everything else is insignificant."
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