Christian Horner hints at Lando Norris decision as Red Bull alarm bells raised

Max Verstappen wins third consecutive Formula One world championship

Red Bull chief Christian Horner has told Lando Norris that Max Verstappen cannot have another “alpha” driving alongside him. Verstappen cruised to a third-successive World Championship in Saturday’s sprint race at the Qatar Grand Prix, amid speculation over whether Sergio Perez will partner him next season. 

Perez’s own form has stuttered in 2023, with the Mexican struggling to keep up with Verstappen. The 31-year-old has two Grand Prix triumphs to his name this term but has been linked with a departure from Red Bull. 

McLaren ace Norris has been hotly tipped to partner Verstappen in the future. However, Horner has warned that Red Bull cannot have two “alphas” driving their cars, instead requiring a selfless star like Perez to allow the Dutchman to thrive. 

Norris is a strong personality who would likely want to go toe-to-toe with Verstappen. Horner might therefore pass up the opportunity to sign the 23-year-old. 

The Red Bull team principal was asked by Sky Sports about the possibility of Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso partnering Verstappen. He responded: “If you put two extreme alphas in a team it’ll tear the team apart.

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“So you always want to achieve I think the right balance. That’s one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned.”

Verstappen has driven Perez into a very distant second-place in the drivers’ leaderboard, with the latter sitting 184 points behind the champion. But he appears to have the full backing of Horner to see out the season in second place. 

“He can do it, he can finish second in the championship. He’ll have all the support from us in order to do that,” Horner continued. 

“I think if Checo just focuses on being the best that he can be, rather than trying too hard to beat Max, I think his results will naturally come.”

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It comes after Verstappen clinched his third world drivers’ title in as many years. He just needed to come sixth in Saturday’s Qatar Grand Prix sprint race, and ultimately finished as the runner-up behind Norris’ McLaren colleague Oscar Piastri. 

“This one is the best one. I think the first one was the most emotional one because that’s when your dreams are fulfilled in F1. But this one has definitely been my best year,” Verstappen reflected. 

“The most consecutive wins and stuff, the car itself has been probably in the best shape as well. So for me, this one is the most proud of in a way because of consistency.”

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