Max Verstappen prevails in world title shoot-out
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Max Verstappen has given his boss Christian Horner a “special gift” to mark becoming an F1 world champion for the first time. The Dutchman wanted to give the Red Bull team principal something to mark the end of a season which climaxed with his first championship trophy.
Verstappen, 24, overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of a dramatic and controversial season finale in Abu Dhabi.
But he was only in striking distance because of a timely safety car, and Mercedes were furious that the racing was allowed to continue again for the final lap, seemingly against the FIA’s sporting regulations.
They protested the result but were shot down by the stewards, before announcing their intention to take their appeal further.
However, after a few days they decided to drop the issues and congratulate Verstappen, who lifted the world championship trophy at a prize giving ceremony on December 16.
It marked the first time a Red Bull driver had won the title since Sebastian Vettel in 2013, so it was a special achievement for the team as well as for the young racer.
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Once confirmation came that the original protests from Mercedes had been dismissed, Red Bull staff were seen partying the night away to celebrate the win at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Now that he has had more than a week to soak in the feeling of being the F1 world champion, Verstappen has taken some time to come up with the perfect gift idea for Horner as a token of his gratitude.
He shared a video on his Instagram page, which shows him gifting the team boss with the race helmet that he wore during his title-winning season.
The only modification made to it appears to be the visor, which has been signed by Verstappen.
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The seemingly speechless Horner could only manage to mumble: “Thank you,” before giving his star racer a hug.
“It did its job,” he later added, referring to the helmet, after which Verstappen couldn’t resist a dig at Hamilton over an incident between the pair earlier in the year.
“It did, yeah,” came the reply, before the Dutchman said: “Protected my head in the tyre wall – it did withstand a lot of things,” referring to the incident at Silverstone when Hamilton sent his title rival into a barrier at high speed.
“It’s a good safe helmet at least,” he added.
In Horner, Verstappen has benefitted from having a man with many years of experience in the sport in his corner.
But he has also been able to rely on the help of another veteran, after revealing that he had been given regular advice by former world champion Fernando Alonso.
“At the moment I have a really good relationship with Fernando [Alonso],” the Dutchman said. “I like his style, I like his attitude. His drive and motivation, at his age, always wanting to be the best and it’s remarkable to see.
“I would like to see him back at the front, he deserves it.
“It’s been really nice to talk to him and hear how he thinks about situations.”
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