Max Verstappen's win in the United States Grand Prix secured the F1 constructors' title for Red Bull and delighted team chief Christian Horner
Austin (AFP) - Red Bull team chief Christian Horner saluted Dieter Mateschitz’s enormous contribution to the team and Formula One on Sunday after Max Verstappen’s emotional triumph at the United States Grand Prix.
Twenty-four hours after the death of the team’s founder and co-owner, aged 78, Horner said his legacy would live on as Red Bull celebrated completing a title double by clinching the constructors’ championship.
Verstappen had claimed his second drivers’ title two weeks earlier at the Japanese Grand Prix, a triumph that Horner said he was happy that Mateschitz had lived to see.
“His legacy lives on,” Horner said. “He empowered us to go and make an engine for the future. He was looking to the future. Whilst he’s not here in person, he’s here in spirit and his spirit and the Red Bull’s spirit and legacy will live on.”
Reflecting on Red Bull’s stirring success at the Circuit of the Americas, where they won the teams’ title for a fifth time, but first since 2013, Horner heaped praise on Verstappen’s hunger and maturity.
“To win the constructors championship after eight years is incredible,” he said, adding how impressed he was by the Dutchman’s ability to overcome the setback of a slow pit-stop after 36 laps.
“Unfortunately, there was an issue with the gun itself, but the good thing was it kept the car covered and then Max… Wow!
“There’s a hunger within him that I’ve never seen in another driver. There’s a determination and as he’s growing and maturing, he’s reading races incredibly well.
“I think this means everything to us. It’s been such a journey,” he said.
But inevitably the loss of the team’s founder was at the front of Horner’s thoughts.
“Dietrich was a very private man. He was passionate – passionate about sport, especially about Formula One.
“He believed in us, he backed us and this is for him. We are tremendously grateful for everything he’s done, for us as individuals and as a team and we are going to celebrate in his honour tonight.
“I’m just so happy he got to see Max retain the drivers’ title in Japan,” he added.
Horner said the eight years without a constructor’s title had made the victory particularly significant.
“It means even more because we’ve had the tough years, we’ve had to keep picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and coming back… It means the world to us.”