Red Bull chief Horner lauds Max Verstappen as 'a privilege to watch' after Abu Dhabi win

Team principal tells world champion he 'smashed it out of the park' following Yas Marina Circuit victory

Red Bull's Max Verstappen celebrates winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. Getty
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When Max Verstappen tore across the finish line at Yas Marina Circuit, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner summed up the feelings of the entire team via the radio link.

“You’ve smashed it out of the park,” he told the 2022/2023 Formula 1 victor.

“It’s been a privilege watching you.”

For his own part, Verstappen seemed happy but relieved at today’s result.

Speaking after he was out of the car and standing centre stage at Yas Marina Circuit, he talked about his “incredible” season, but admitted to being moved by today’s event.

“It was a bit emotional on the last lap,” he told former F1 stalwart David Coulthard.

“The last time sitting in the car which of course has given me a lot.”

The driver said he was proud to win the final race, thanking teammates in the process.

Of today’s race, Verstappen admitted making life problematic for himself early on by taking it easy, but he said: “It was necessary in order not to shred the tyres.”

A positive end to the season, then, but when it comes to what happens next year, Verstappen admitted there was still work to be done if he and Red Bull were going to remain dominant.

“It will be hard to do something similar next season,” he said.

“Everyone will be trying to beat us. We definitely enjoyed this year though."

Second-placed Charles Leclerc expressed frustration at Ferrari not being able to topple Mercedes in the constructor’s championship.

He said: “We were disappointed with the third placing,” adding it had been a team goal to get the team runner-up placing for the last couple of races.

In general, he was pleased with their performance in Abu Dhabi though, citing a good effort by all at Ferrari.

“It was definitely not a given we were the second fastest car this weekend,” he said, acknowledging the efforts put in by his team.

Mercedes’ George Russell was satisfied with both his and the team’s performance.

“It means a huge amount,” he said of his third placing.

“There’s so many people back at the factory who have worked so hard to achieve this, it’s been a really challenging season.

“I’ve let the side down a couple of times this year so I’m pleased to have brought it across the line today.”

Updated: November 26, 2023, 4:58 PM