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Horner: Verstappen 'no robot' dealing with Dutch GP F1 pressure

Christian Horner thinks Max Verstappen would have felt intense relief at delivering another Formula 1 home win, saying only a robot would be immune to the pressure on the Dutchman.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The Dutch Grand Prix only returned to the F1 calendar in 2021 exclusively thanks to the huge interest in Verstappen, who has caused flocks of orange-clad Dutch fans to not only cheer him on in Zandvoort but across all European races.

Verstappen has yet to disappoint the home fans, completing a hat-trick of Dutch GP wins on Sunday in front of some of the most energetic, sold out grandstands of the year.

PLUS: How Verstappen defied home pressure and two downpours to win F1's Dutch GP

A mixed weather race offered several ways for Verstappen and Red Bull to trip up, but the Dutchman always remained in control, appearing to be immune to pressure as he snared his ninth consecutive win, matching Sebastian Vettel's all-time record.

But according to Red Bull team principal Horner, the burden of expectation was definitely weighing on the two-time world champion last weekend.

"Oh of course, you'd be a robot not to [feel the weight of expectation]," Horner said. "And you could see in his face, you've got 100,000 Dutch men and women singing the national anthem.

"That's a big moment for him, for any national driver, and I think that he's got the royal family here, coming to see him just before he steps into the car.

"He's got so much expectation. You have to feel that and I think it must be a huge relief for him when he leaves the circuit tonight that he's ticked that box.

"I think the tension always is growing. He's got a good team around him. He's not been overworked, overstretched this weekend. He's treated it like a normal grand prix weekend."

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Horner singled out Verstappen's coolness after two aborted Q1 laps and the manner in which he worked his way up the order after a late pitstop for intermediates as two standout high-pressure moments that could have cracked other drivers.

"There are a couple of points this weekend that really stood out for me. I think there was the first lap in Q1, where he went off in Turn 1 and then he got blocked on the next lap," Horner explained.

"There's a black cloud coming, there's a lot of drivers that would have buckled under the pressure. And he didn't.

"And then again, having emerged from the pits behind a lot of cars, having to come through the paddock the way he did ...

"There's a lot of drivers that would have buckled under that pressure and he kept his head, and he was phenomenal."

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Verstappen has repeatedly stated he's not too interested in rewriting F1's history books, but Horner believes his driver will have been "quietly very proud" of what he is achieving in 2023.

"I think quietly, he's very proud of what he's doing and achieving. The record the Sebastian did in 2013... to win nine in a row is insane.

"To have done it in the same team with another driver, it's something that I don't think any of us could have ever envisaged."

Additional reporting by Erwin Jaeggi

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