Verstappen and Leclerc have engaged in thrilling wheel-to-wheel duels for the lead in both races to start the 2022 season, winning one apiece after Red Bull’s world champion triumphed in Saudi Arabia last weekend.
While the pair, who are both 24 years old and were born less than a month apart, have a long-standing rivalry from their karting days and have clashed before in F1, their racing so far this season has been fierce but clean.
“I think you’re seeing two fantastic young drivers that have raced each other probably from when they were about 10 or 11 going head to head in two very competitive Formula 1 cars,” Horner told Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater
“The racing in these first two races have been phenomenal.
“You can see there’s a respect between the two of them and these cars seem to be easier to follow and race each other with. The sample from the first two races has been really exciting.”
The start of the 2022 era, with new cars and rules, follows on from a hugely tense and combative 2021 campaign which saw Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, and Red Bull and Mercedes, clash on and off the track.
Max Verstappen finally managed to pass Charles Leclerc with just three laps remaining in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Asked if racing Ferrari, who have leapfrogged Mercedes’ as Red Bull’s closest rivals, Horner stated: “Racing Ferrari is always slightly different.
“They’re such a long-standing team in Formula 1 and it’s not perhaps some of the animosities that had grown between our other rivals.
- “They’re a great team, they’ve got great drivers. Mercedes are going to be bouncing back soon, I’ve got no doubt about that. We have to focus on ourselves and keep evolving and developing this car.”
Anthony Davidson is at the SkyPad to analyse the sensational battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Mercedes are second in the constructors’ standings behind Ferrari but that is only because of Red Bull’s double DNF to start the season in Bahrain. Indeed, the sport’s champions for the past eight seasons have been well off their pace of their rivals, around a second a lap down in Jeddah over the weekend.
“It’s great that there’s another team involved at running at the front of the field,” insisted Horner.
But he added: “When Mercedes get their problems sorted they’re going to be in there so that’s potentially six drivers who are going to be in contention every weekend. For the fans that’s going to be fantastic.