Max Verstappen controversially beat Sir Lewis Hamilton to the 2021 Drivers’ Championship.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hit out at Sir Lewis Hamilton for not “recognising Max’s ability” during their titanic 2021 title battle, which as well-known ended under extremely controversial circumstances at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.
Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap of the 2021 season finale to claim his first Drivers’ Championship, and Red Bull’s first since 2013.
Last year was arguably one of the greatest seasons in the history of Formula 1, with both Mercedes and Red Bull having been pushed to the absolute limit.
Hamilton’s and Verstappen’s rivalry went beyond the limit at times, with the duo having collided at a number of races, including, the Emilia Romagna, Italian, Brazilian and Saudi Arabian GPs.
However, the biggest collision between the two came at the British Grand Prix, where the Dutchman was sent into the barrier at Copse Corner at a horrific speed, resulting in an impact measuring 51G.
The incident came after Hamilton attempted to go up the inside of the Red Bull driver at the corner; however, the 37-year-old made contact with the right-rear tyre of Verstappen’s car.
Hamilton did go on to claim victory, despite having had a 10-second stop/go penalty.
Horner remains furious with the seven-time World Champion for celebrating whilst Verstappen sat in hospital, as a result of the collision.
Whilst reflecting on last season, the Red Bull boss admitted that nobody can argue with what Hamilton “has done and achieved”, but that “everybody is beatable”.
“I think there has always been a respect there, you can’t not respect everything Lewis has done and achieved in this sport,” Horner told the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“It is remarkable and probably never to be bettered.
“But everybody is beatable at some point in time and Max had respect for Lewis but he wasn’t in awe or afraid of him, and relished going up against him, the opportunity to go wheel-to-wheel racing with him.
“Ultimately, he believed he could beat him and it was that inner belief and self-confidence that on so many occasions, you saw come through.”
This season’s title dynamic has been drastically different, with Verstappen already being on the verge of retaining his title despite there still being six races left.
The Dutch driver could wrap up the championship at the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix, after what has been a disappointing title battle against Charles Leclerc.
The duo has demonstrated more respect on and off the circuit than Verstappen and Hamilton did in 2021, with Horner putting this down to the fact that the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers grew up racing against one another.
The pair are often heard praising each other, something Horner bluntly said he never heard Hamilton do last year.
“There is perhaps a different respect with Charles,” explained Horner.
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“They raced each other as kids and there is mutual respect.
“I have never once heard Lewis recognise Max’s ability so, of course, there was just a little more needle to it.
“You could see that and sense that between those two drivers.”