Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner says Lewis Hamilton is to blame for souring his relationship with Max Verstappen. The duo battled for the 2021 Formula 1 Drivers' championship, and as the season wore on, their relationship deteriorated.

Eventually, Verstappen claimed the title at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but their rivalry came to a boil well before the end of the season. Hamilton has always maintained that the Red Bull driver is dangerous when battling side-by-side on track owing to an over-aggressive style of driving.

However, in 2022, Verstappen and title contender Charles Leclerc have shown great respect for each other while fighting for race wins. Horner believes the added respect comes from the two drivers acknowledging each other's abilities, something the Briton feels Hamilton did not do.

"There's a difference. There's perhaps a different respect with Charles. They had raced each other as kids and there is a mutual respect. I've never once heard Lewis recognise Max's ability and so of course there was just a bit more needle to it," Horner told F1's Beyond The Grid Podcast.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won an epic season-long battle with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP

The Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry reached its boiling point at the 2021 British Grand Prix when the two collided, resulting in the latter's retirement. The two teams got into a heated argument with Red Bull unhappy with the 10-second time penalty that was handed to the Mercedes driver.

As the season progressed, the rivalry intensified and the drivers' animosity spilled onto the team, with Horner and Mercedes chief Toto Wolff regularly engaging in a war of words. Earlier in the year, Verstappen took a thinly veiled dig at Mercedes after praising 2022 title rivals Ferrari.

The Dutch racer feels the rivalry and the need to beat each other should end when teams and drivers leave the track. Verstappen recalled a light moment he shared with Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto after the qualifying session at the French Grad Prix.

"On Saturday night, we even had a laugh in Paul Ricard, and I think that's great because that's what racing should be about," Verstappen said, talking about his relationship with Ferrari chief Binotto.

"We are hard competitors on the track and we will always try to beat each other, which I think is very normal, but outside of it you can have a good time as well, and that's what I really enjoy about this year. Let's say it like this, I would not be on a table on Saturday night having a laugh with (Mercedes)."

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen celebrates his stunning Spa win POOL via AFP / ERIC GAILLARD