Christian Horner has Valtteri Bottas theory on why Max Verstappen 'deserves' world title

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has delivered his theory on why Max Verstappen deserves to win the world title over Lewis Hamilton, and curiously enough, it involves Valtteri Bottas. The former two drivers have been away and clear for the vast majority of the year, but Horner still believes that Hamilton’s team-mate has had his own part to play in the Brit’s resurgence. 

Tensions are soaring between the Mercedes and Red Bull camps after an incident-packed weekend of racing in Jeddah. 

With a backdrop of fine margins in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ standings, Verstappen’s qualifying crash set the scene for a dramatic Sunday. 

Having taken advantage of an early red flag, the Dutchman was given the opportunity to lead from the front once the race restarted, leading to another classic wheel-to-wheel battle between the title contenders. 

Such instances this season have rarely come without controversy, and Verstappen was typically dogged in his defence of the lead. 

Many questioned the sportsmanship of his tactics, however, when he was given two time penalties for his role in his duel with Hamilton as the pair collided twice. 

Eventually, the Mercedes man was allowed to take first place from his Red Bull counterpart, and the victory combined with a fastest lap point to level the scores at 369.5 points apiece. 

With one race left to come in Abu Dhabi and the title hanging in the balance, Horner has portrayed his theory as to why his driver deserves the crown. 

“Max is a fighter and if there’s a driver that deserves to win this World Championship, it’s Max Verstappen, because Mercedes have had the better car,” he told the F1 Nation podcast.

“He has driven outstandingly. Look how close Valtteri [Bottas] has been to Lewis this year.

“Max has been head and shoulders, for me, the driver of the year.

“He would be very deserving, you know, to win this championship. The way he’s driven this year, the way he’s conducted himself, I think has been outstanding.”

Curiously enough, although Horner points to Bottas’ performance as an indication of Mercedes having a better car, the Finn sits over 150 points behind Hamilton. 

That is only 28 points ahead of Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate, Sergio Perez, and the gap has widened in recent weeks thanks to the Mexican’s retirement in Jeddah and Bottas’ victory in Turkey. 

With George Russell set to step up to Mercedes ahead of next season, Bottas has just one race left for the Silver Arrows. 

Although his proximity to Hamilton is perhaps not as close as Horner’s comments might suggest, his recent upturn in form has seen Mercedes pull clear in the Constructors’ standings. 

But all eyes are likely to be on the drivers ahead of Abu Dhabi, with nothing to split them and everything to gain as Verstappen chases his first world title and Hamilton aims to make history by racking up number eight. 

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