Max Verstappen’s title battle with Lewis Hamilton set up one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the sport
After one of the most unpredictable and dramatic seasons in a generation, Verstappen and Hamilton arrived at the final race of the season level on points.
It was only the second time in the history over the sport in which two drivers had been level on points heading into the final weekend of the year and the drama continued as Verstappen passed Hamilton on the final lap of the season to claim his first world title.
In the wild closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen benefitted from a late safety car and some controversial decisions from race director Michael Masi before passing Hamilton on a fresh set of soft tyres.
Horner, who celebrated winning a title with Red Bull for the first time since 2013, praised the impact of president Stefano Domenicali for growing F1’s popularity since the takeover from Liberty Media, and said the drama which ensued on the final race of the season points to a bright future for the sport.
“I think it was 47 years ago that this championship last went to a race where drivers were tied on points,” Horner said.
“I don’t think even a Hollywood script writer could have come up with the ins and outs of this year. And Formula 1’s popularity as we’ve seen has gone through the roof.
“He [Domenicali] has probably got the biggest sporting event in the world this year as the finale. And the amount of new fans that we’ve welcomed into the sport has been astounding, phenomenal.”
Horner, who has been in charge of Red Bull since 2005, is set to sign a five-year contract extension with the team.
Speaking after the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Helmut Marko revealed: “He is a charismatic team boss who, by the way – even before [Verstappen won the title ] – was in the process of extending his contract until 2026.”