Verstappen clinched the 2022 title with his dominant victory at Suzuka last weekend, with four races remaining.
There has been some confusion after science over whether or not full points will be awarded despite the short race distance, but unlike last year’s Abu Dhabi final, controversy has not clouded the success.
It was the team’s sixth drivers title after Sebastian Vettel scored four wins in 2010-13.
“To do that with four races left, I mean, it’s really a great performance,” Horner said when asked by Motorsport.com if he could enjoy that success more than last year.
“And I think Max was on another planet this year, he dominated this tournament, driven by such maturity, such conviction.
“And I think, of course, it’s a lot less controversial than the last race in Abu Dhabi, which was a giant battle last year. The biggest standout for us is the decision makers.
“So after eight years, no other team has come close to winning it, and hopefully we can bring that home this year as well.”
Horner acknowledged the different circumstances compared to last year.
“Winning the championship is winning the championship,” he said. “And that, I think, is much lower blood pressure than in Abu Dhabi. But it means the same amount.
“And for Max, who became world champion last year and held that number one position in the car, he drove with that conviction this year, and he defended the title in a dominant fashion. It was a pleasure to see him reach another level this year.”
Race winner and F1 World Drivers’ Champion 2022 Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Horner agreed that drivers often face less pressure after winning their first title, allowing them to take another step.
“I think last year was such a heavyweight showdown between two giants,” he said.
“And I think after he had that world championship last year, it happened with Sebastian and it happened again with Max, he just took that pressure off his shoulders from expectations, and he just went out and crushed him out of the park this year.
“He’s in the shape of his life, he’s leading incredibly well, the team is working at an exceptionally high level, and the strength and depth we have throughout the organization is tremendous.
“And we’re very proud of him, and obviously we’re going to enjoy this moment. But quickly focus on the manufacturers side of the tables.” Chico [Perez] And that secured second place in the championship.”
Suzuka’s win wasn’t a straightforward win, as Verstappen almost lost to Charles Leclerc in the first corner, and had to work his way up the lead.
“Our start was horrible, he’s got quite a bit of a spin,” Horner said. “But then he went to the old karting line around the outside. And he was totally committed.
“I spoke to him at the intermission and he said, ‘Look, I was going for that.'” Charles gave him enough space, made the movement steady.
Despite the apparent ease with which he opened a lead, it was far from a straight afternoon for Verstappen or his team.
“There’s a tremendous amount going on,” Horner said. “I mean, the circuit is really starting to dry up. And these tires don’t like power, especially in the first sector, you can do a lot of damage to them, and Max has controlled the slip, controlled the temperature, took care of those tires, and in the end, she had a lot on hand. Hand.
“We thought we’d get one point short. So we’re playing with the idea of pitting [to get fastest lap], but wasn’t sure if Checo would pass Charles or not. But look, I mean, Max Verstappen has been great this year.
“After two tough races early in the season, the way the team bounced back, the way it drives, they dominated this championship. And again, that was a totally dominant drive today.
What did he do? 25 seconds on Charles on 20 odd laps was a massive performance today. With Chico in second place too.
“It’s great for him and his championship, for the constructors, it’s big points too. So very pleased with the result, and I think Max is a really deserved champion.”