Christian Horner calls out Lewis Hamilton mind games in Max Verstappen title fight
Hamilton v Verstappen: Their careers in numbers
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Red Bull team principal holds no doubt that Lewis Hamilton has been trying to play mind games with Max Verstappen heading into the F1 world championship decider this weekend in Abu Dhabi. Millions of F1 fans are set to tune in on Sunday with Verstappen and Hamilton the two protagonists aiming for the title.
Hamilton has experience behind having won seven championships before while Verstappen is competing for the first of his young career.
It’s new territory for Verstappen as Red Bull have struggled to give him the car capable of giving Mercedes a genuine fight.
This year has been different though with Verstappen winning nine Grands Prix to Hamilton’s eight heading into the final race of the season.
Whatever happens on Sunday, this season will go down in history as one of the most memorable years in F1 history.
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Both drivers will be giving it everything to ensure they sit on top of the standings come the end of the race.
But there has already been plenty of fighting talk from both drivers off the track with Hamilton recently calling Verstappen ” f****** crazy” on team radio during last weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Hamilton went on to stand by his comment, stating: “This is not the first time that I’ve had to avoid collision and yeah, that’s how I felt at the moment.”
Horner though believes the 36-year-old is just trying to get under Verstappen’s skin ahead of this weekend’s finale.
When asked on BBC’s The Sports Desk podcast whether Hamilton was playing mind games, Horner said: “Of course it is.
“Lewis is a wily competitor he’s been around a long time he’s been in this situation without the intensity of this competition for so many years that he knows how to put the spotlight on his competitor, how to put the governing body’s torch on him effectively.
“The best way to win this and the way we really want to win it is we want to do it on the track – that would be the most rewarding way to win this world championship – one last major push to see if we can beat Lewis this weekend and it’s winner takes all.
“It’s a lot of pressure for a young guy – so we have to talk about these things – he’s pretty broad shouldered but there’s a sensitivity with him as well, and he’s conscious of the responsibility that’s with him.
“He just wants to go out there and do best he can this weekend – and hopefully it’ll be enough. If it’s not he’s had the most amazing season and we’re incredibly proud of him and we’ll come back fighting next year – but to get to this position with a driver like Lewis Hamilton, it’s a phenomenal achievement.
“We haven’t been able to give him a car as competitive as Mercedes in the second half of the year – he’s lifted the car and the team to keep us in this battle and fight and that should not be underestimated.
“He’s driven at a level that surpassed all expectation – there’s been massive pressure on him. If you look at his home GP in Zandvoort, and the way he’s dealt with that at a time when mental pressure of young athletes has come under such scrutiny, I think he’s been a shining light of how to deal with that pressure.”
The next episode of The Sports Desk podcast is available now on BBC Sounds
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