Horner has learned “not to listen” to Wolff over F1 title claim

Max Verstappen’s dominant performance at the Japanese Grand Prix, as he took his third win from four races this year, left few in any doubt that the Dutchman is the clear favourite to grab his fourth world title this season.

And while closest challenger Ferrari hopes it can find gains to start putting Red Bull under more pressure for wins, Wolff thinks it a pipe dream that anyone can stop Verstappen.

“No one is going to catch Max this year,” said Wolff in Japan. “His driving and the car is just spectacular. You can see the way he manages the tyres and, basically, this season now is [about] best of the rest.”

But Red Bull does not see things being as straightforward as that, with Horner taking the opportunity to have a subtle dig at his nemesis.

“It’s very early to write off your year,” said Horner when asked about Wolff’s comments. “There’s still 20 races to go, but I’ve learned not to listen too much to what Toto said over the years.”

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko also backed up Horner’s view that it was far too early for rivals to be congratulating them on securing the title.

“Please leave me alone,” Marko told oe24 about Wolff’s remarks. “We’ve only driven four races. There are 20 to go. In Melbourne, we saw how quickly everything can turn around. Ferrari is strong and reliable, we can’t write them off yet.”

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Marko did agree with Wolff’s assessment, however, that Verstappen was driving so well at the moment.

“We have a good car, but then Max makes the difference once again,” he added. “Everything was clear in Suzuka, but then Max drove this incredible fastest lap on worn tyres, not just for fun, but to get his message across: ‘Hello, the rest of you are only there to finish second!’

Despite being mindful that the world championship is far from won, Horner also reckoned that Verstappen was in incredible form.

“I think he’s in great shape,” he said. “He’s changed trainer over the winter. He’s fit, he is lean and the car is in a great window. You can hear the spare capacity he has in the car.

“He’s wanting to know about not just who’s behind him, but who’s behind that as well, and what times are they doing. The capacity he has is very impressive. So, yeah, the form that he had last year has just carried through.”

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