RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has heaped praise on Max Verstappen after he took another step towards back-to-back Formula 1 world titles with a commanding victory in the Italian Grand Prix.

    Having taken a pre-race grid penalty for power unit changes, Verstappen rose from P7 to P1 at Monza to record his fifth win in a row and 11th of the season so far – meaning he could secure the 2022 crown next time out in Singapore.

    In order to do so, the Dutchman needs to outscore Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by 22 points, team mate Sergio Perez by 13 and Mercedes driver George Russell – still mathematically in contention – by six.

    Read more: Verstappen says maiden Italian GP win continues an ‘amazing year’ as he edges closer to title

    Reflecting on Verstappen and Red Bull’s latest victory, and how close they are to taking overall honours, Horner said: “I think the whole team this year has delivered at such a high level. Our performance this weekend… I think we had the quickest race car; we compromised quali slightly to have that better race car and it paid off.

    “Max’s pace – to come through so quickly [after his penalty] – was really encouraging. You could see with Checo [Sergio Perez] as well, coming back from that early flat spot [to finish sixth with the fastest lap] – he had tremendous pace."

    Horner added: "We got the strategy right today, but ultimately we had a fast car and Max is just on fire at the moment – I don’t think anything was going to stop him."

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    Verstappen's first ever Monza podium was a memorable one

    But despite Verstappen now sitting 116 points clear of Leclerc, and Red Bull leading Ferrari by 139, Horner is taking nothing for granted as the Milton Keynes-based team attempt to clinch both titles for the first time since 2013.

    "The championships are looking healthy, but it’s never done until it’s done," he insisted, adding that "Singapore’s a completely different challenge" and "Ferrari are going to be strong there".

    READ MORE: 6 Winners and Losers from the Italian Grand Prix – Who starred at Monza?

    As for whether Red Bull can now follow in Mercedes’ footsteps and dominate the next few seasons, Horner said: "It’s highly unlikely. We’ve had a wonderful year so far, [but] there’s still a long way to go.

    "Ferrari are quick, Mercedes are sorting themselves out, and you’ve gotta keep looking forward. All the lessons we learn now have to apply to next year as well."

    Race Highlights: 2022 Italian Grand Prix