Christian Horner has defended Max Verstappen's driving style and agreed that the Dutchman has been "treated harshly" by officials this season.
The Red Bull team principal echoed the thoughts of his driver, who said ahead of the season-concluding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he felt he had been treated differently to other drivers by stewards during the season.
Verstappen's aggressive style has caused the 24-year-old to be more regularly entangled in incidents than most, but Horner does not want him to change as he looks to claim a first world title.
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Indeed, Horner believes that Verstappen's manner on the track has helped attract fans to Formula 1.
"I think on occasion he has been treated harshly," Horner explained. "He has come under scrutiny that we haven't seen applied consistently in other incidents. The problem is for Max is that scrutiny is on him.
"He is running at the front, competing against a seven-time world champion. There has been a narrative that has been pushed to put pressure on him.
Max drives in a manner that ignites passion and has brought fans into the sport. We do not want him to change. We want him to drive in exactly the manner he has to put him this position.
Verstappen is locked level on points with Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes with one race left on the calendar, and would win in the event of a tie having claimed nine race victories to Hamilton's eight in the 2021 season.
He is hoping to secure his first Drivers' Championship after a breakthrough season that has seen him push the Brit, a seven-time world champion, all the way.
Horner stressed that he feels Verstappen deserves more credit for how he has handled an intense battle for the world title.

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"The way he has taken on the greatest driver of all time, he has deserved [to be in contention on the final weekend].
"The mental pressure on a young man has been immense this year. It is right that he feels aggrieved by some decisions. What we want as a team is consistency, and that is what we have addressed coming into this week."
Victory for Hamilton would see the 36-year-old surpass Michael Schumacher and become the most successful driver in F1 history with eight world titles.
Along with the Drivers' Championship, the constructors' prize will also be decided in Abu Dhabi, though Mercedes are 28 points ahead and firm favourites.
Horner conceded that twin triumphs are unlikely: "This team has put together a phenomenal campaign this year, we’ve won 10 races. We’ve taken Mercedes – and who would have thought that coming into this year – we’ve taken them all the way into the final race; but we’re on the back foot, we need a miracle to win that."
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