Horner - Verstappen unfazed by title pressure
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says Max Verstappen is unfazed by the pressure of being involved in the Drivers' Championship title battle and has backed him to do his talking on the track.
Verstappen has never been directly involved in a title race during his six previous years in F1, but that looks set to change this season, with the Dutchman emerging as reigning champion Lewis Hamilton's nearest rival and he is priced at 2.00 to claim a first world title in 2021.
Mercedes ace Hamilton is just 14 points ahead of Verstappen following the opening four races of the season and the Brit made a point of highlighting his rival's errors ahead of last week's Spanish Grand Prix.
Horner was unsurprisingly not enamoured by those comments, but he insists Verstappen will ignore such talk and instead focus on what he does best.
"Max will do his talking on the track," Horner told ESPN. "Look, they can all make mistakes and we're at the non-pressured stage of the championship at the moment. As we get to the business end it will count for more.
"When five races are left and if there is still the points difference that there is now, that's when the pressure mounts up, not at this stage."
It has been suggested that the pressure of being involved in a first title battle may ultimately prove Verstappen's undoing this season, but Horner does not feel that will be the case and he is confident the 23-year-old will rise to the challenge.
"I think he's got that youthful bravado; he's got nothing to lose," Horner added. "Every big pressure point in his career I've seen him deal with previously, he's stepped up to the plate tremendously well.
"I've got no doubt he'll be able to deal with it should the opportunity come."
The 2021 F1 season will resume next week with the iconic Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo.