With Verstappen eventually finishing the sprint in second and on the podium, the Red Bull squad joined in harmony to celebrate their star driver’s achievement. Amid the party atmosphere, Horner was asked on Sky Sports F1 whether there were any difficult feelings over the contrasting performances of his two drivers.
"We’re in the moment. Obviously, it’s sad to see Checo go out, but at that point you know [Verstappen is] the world champion," said the Red Bull boss. "We went into that race knowing that barring something funny going on, he was going to be the world champion.
"It wasn’t about just scoring those three points there, you could see he raced hard. Without three safety cars, we’d have challenged for that victory."
Given the years of Mercedes dominance that Horner has had to deal with, it is rare to hear the team boss speak positively of other teams' successes but he took time to deliver praise to sprint winner, McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri.
Horner said: "Another young talent coming through – Oscar Piastri. What a talent he looks as well. A great drive from him today and congrats to him and McLaren on that sprint race victory."
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