Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has dared to 'bet his house' over his claim that Max Verstappen is "two-to-three seconds faster" than his F1 rivals with the first lap of each race weekend.
The Dutchman romped to a third consecutive Drivers' Championship last season with a record-breaking 17 race victories, a year after initially breaking the same record with 15 wins.
Verstappen's pace out of the box at a Grand Prix weekend has been particularly impressive, typically shooting to the top of the timesheets straight away on the hardest compound of rubber whilst other drivers merely adapt to conditions.
Speaking about his driver on the Secrets of Success podcast, Horner explained: "Max as a person is just a very sweet 26-year-old young man who has a passion for racing and is not very comfortable with the fame and notoriety he has. He just wants to do his job, race hard and is very honest and straightforward.
"He likes to play FIFA on his PlayStation when he is not in a race car. Outside the car, he's a sweet guy.
"When he's in the car, he's ruthless. I've never met a driver who is as driven as Max is as soon as he gets in the car. You know you're going to get 110 per cent from him and he expects it back from the team.
"As soon as we start a race weekend, that first lap, which is actually meaningless, Max is the driver who is the fastest on the first lap - often two to three seconds faster than the rest.
“I dare to bet my house on that. For him, this is a way to show that he is performing at the peak of his abilities and is the authority, that he is one with his car."
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Horner went further and suggested Verstappen is so strong in one facet of the sport that he has yet to have seen such prowess.
"Max has the confidence, the talent, the feeling and the technique to do that, to be able to adapt so quickly," added Horner.
"He came to F1 at a very early age, without any training in the junior classes. He followed that training in public in the Formula 1 arena, where everything you do is studied in detail by everyone.
"His mental toughness, that mental strength in the important moments, whether it is a qualifying, overtaking or an out-lap, is where he shines. I have not yet seen a driver who can handle the pressure as much as Verstappen when there is so much is at stake."