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Horner praises Red Bull F1's Jason Statham for dealing with "tough customer" Verstappen

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has joked race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase is the Formula 1 team's Jason Statham as he praised his "strength of character" to spar with Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Gianpiero Lambiase, Red Bull Racing race engineer

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen and Lambiase raised eyebrows with a vocal disagreement over their run plan during Friday qualifying for last week's Belgian Grand Prix.

That was followed up by more fiery exchanges in the race, particularly when Lambiase asked his driver to "use your head more" in the final stint when Verstappen took too much life out of his new soft tyres.

Verstappen then joked that he would push on and make another pitstop for some "pitstop training", which his engineer quickly shot down.

When asked about the episode, Horner praised Lambiase for having a strong character to deal with a "demanding customer" in Verstappen, jokingly likening Lambiase to square-jawed Hollywood action hero Jason Statham.

"I think to race engineer Max Verstappen you've got to have strength of character, because he is one tough customer," Horner said. 

"Many race engineers would crumble under that pressure and GP has got the strength of character to deal with that.

"GP is our Jason Statham equivalent, I guess, they certainly look alike...! He deals with him firmly but fairly and there's a great respect between the two of them.

"The only problem is that conversation between the two of them, 200 million people are listening to. But there's a great bond and a great trust between the two. There's no counselling required."

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Erik Junius

Verstappen revealed that his messages on making another pitstop to attack the fastest lap were partly meant as a joke, admitting: “I know the team doesn’t like to do another stop, but I like to mention it, so they might get a bit nervous..." 

When asked if Verstappen, who is marching unopposed to a third straight world title this season, is often taking it easier inside the car than people on Red Bull's pitwall think, Horner said: "I think there's sometimes an element of that.

"But we have to remember the engineers and the performance engineers, they're living and breathing all the data they have in front of them.

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"They can see, and they know their driver's driving style, they know what they're taking out of the car and so on.

"And I was asking GP: 'I know what he's doing, he's trying to build up a gap for a pitstop' and GP said: 'I think he's taking it pretty easy, all the metrics are massively under control.'

"So, it's having that trust and bond that's so important, which is what those two guys have.

"I mean, sometimes it gets a bit sparky between the two of them. But it'll calm down very quickly."

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