Christian Horner has praised Max Verstappen for his “brave” opening-lap move on Lewis Hamilton that set up victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Verstappen attacked polesitter Hamilton from the start and muscled his way past in the first chicane, forcing the Mercedes driver to rattle over the kerbs and lose part of his front wing endplate.
But after the race was stopped for almost 30 minutes, the Dutchman almost threw away his lead ahead of the restart, half-spinning at Rivazza as he prepared to lead the field back to green flag racing.
“It was a great, great performance by Max today,” said Horner. “He got a mega start and braved it out into the first turn and thereafter controlled the race brilliantly."
Laughing off the Dutch driver’s “tank slapper” moment, Horner added: “Other than that little wobble, that was the only mistake he made all afternoon.”
It was a mix of relief and delight for Horner, whose team left the season-opener in Bahrain three weeks ago with heads firmly down having been defeated by Mercedes despite clearly showing the best pace in the field.
After Verstappen delivered this time out, Horner pointed to the momentum being generated with an uncharacteristically strong start to the season for the Milton Keynes-based outfit that sits just seven points adrift of Mercedes.
“It’s by far the best start we’ve had for quite a few years now so we just want to keep building the momentum,” he said. “It’s fantastic for Honda. It’s their first win here since [Ayrton] Senna in 1991 here.
“It’s always tough to lose a race like we did in Bahrain, where it’s so marginal. So to come here, get that victory, there’s only one point between the two drivers, there’s still a huge distance in this championship still to run.
“We just want to build that momentum and we have to take it all the way through the year. We’ve got a good car [but] we can see Mercedes are still very quick.
“Their [tyre] degradation is better than ours, you’ve only got to look at that at the end of the stint on the inter and their pace at the end of the race, Lewis got the fastest lap by a decent margin. We are going to have to go some to keep them under pressure.”
GPFans is a multi-platform, multi-language brand dedicated to Formula One coverage. We bring you all the ins and outs of the sport, 24/7, everything from up-to-the-minute news and features to the latest viral stories and clips.
We believe that a new generation of exciting, outspoken drivers will make F1 more popular than ever before, and we want to give our users access to as much of their heroes as possible, on and off the track. From Lewis Hamilton to Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo to Sebastian Vettel, we provide in-depth analysis of every every Grand Prix in the season, from Australia to Abu Dhabi.
With Formula One under the new ownership of Liberty Media, how the sport is being covered is evolving, and GPFans will look to be at the heart of this progression into new media, as one of the fastest-growing sites covering the king of motorsports.