Verstappen’s Winning Prediction: How Padel Tennis Fired Up the F1 Star

September 29, 2023

In the high-stakes world of Formula 1, where every second counts, it’s the behind-the-scenes stories that add an extra layer of thrill to the race. Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, recently shared a captivating insight into Max Verstappen’s winning mindset before the F1 Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen, the Dutch dynamo, went on to claim his 13th victory in 16 races, securing a dominant win at Suzuka and helping Red Bull clinch their sixth constructors’ championship. With his sights set on a third consecutive drivers’ title, Verstappen finished a staggering 19.3 seconds ahead of his closest rival, McLaren’s Lando Norris.

However, what makes this victory even more intriguing is the prediction Verstappen made during a casual padel tennis game with Horner. The game took place shortly after the Singapore Grand Prix, where Red Bull had faced an unexpected defeat, snapping their winning streak.

Horner reminisced, “We all left Singapore knowing that ultimately the winning run that we had would come to an end, but we were still a little frustrated. I played padel tennis with Max on Wednesday, and he was properly fired up and said, ‘I want to win the race by 20 seconds.'”

Verstappen’s fierce determination shone throughout the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. His astounding performance began in practice, where he showcased his prowess by lapping 1.8 seconds faster than the competition on hard tires during FP1.

Horner marveled at his dedication, saying, “His final lap in qualifying has got to be up there with one of the best laps of all time in qualifying. And then he converted that after not the best of getaways, but he was able to hang on to the lead and then thereafter build a very commanding lead and control the race.”

Despite the theories surrounding Red Bull’s performance dip in Singapore, Verstappen’s racing spirit remained undeterred. His pole position in Japan was backed by a message to his critics, asserting, “suck on an egg” if they believed their performance woes were linked to an FIA technical directive.

Horner summarized Verstappen’s motivation succinctly: “He’s just a racer. He doesn’t need a lot of motivation, but he certainly came here very keen to reestablish the season he’s been having.”

In the unpredictable world of F1, where speed and strategy are crucial, it’s moments like these—shared over a friendly game of padel tennis—that remind us that even champions find their inspiration in the most unexpected places.

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