Max Verstappen’s remarkable comeback from 10th on the grid to win the Hungarian Grand Prix has helped the Dutchman build an 80-point lead in the F1 drivers’ standings.
However, following another race in which Ferrari had a wonderful opportunity to assist Charles Leclerc in closing down Verstappen’s advantage, only for its strategy to backfire, some are lamenting the fact that the title battle appears to be over.
It’s a far cry from last year’s campaign, when Red Bull was embroiled in a title battle with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes that went all the way to the final round.
Asked after the Hungaroring race if there was a part of him that wanted things to be a bit closer between him and Ferrari, Horner said: “There’s not one ounce of me that wishes that.
“Last year was a heavyweight bout that went 22 rounds. And I’d prefer not to have to go through that again.”
But despite Red Bull and Verstappen appearing to have one hand around the championship trophies, Horner remains cautious that the titles are not won yet.
“The points tables look healthy, and it’s a great way to sign off into the summer break,” he said.
“But there is still a lot of racing to go. Ferrari are quick, Mercedes are coming back into the game. There’s still a long, long way to go in this championship, plus a sprint race.
“We don’t take anything for granted. There’s still a lot of racing to do. And they’re very different venues.”
Red Bull’s championship supremacy this year has come despite the fact that it did not always have the fastest car – and it has been aided further by Ferrari’s reliability and strategy issues.
However, Horner believes that one of the important qualities that has emerged is the ability to not go too far ahead of itself, making a cheeky reference to comments made by Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto following the French GP, when he had aimed for a 1-2 finish in Hungary.
“I think even if we’d won by a lap, I’d still have always been naturally [cautious],” said Horner. “I would never make a claim that we’re going to finish first and second in the next race.
“It’s the way we go racing. We focus on the here and now and take each race as it comes.”