Red Bull team principal Christian Horner reckons Max Verstappen has proved he is now “absolutely” ready to fight for Formula 1 world championships.

While Lewis Hamilton sealed his fifth world championship title at the Mexican Grand Prix, Verstappen took his second victory of the season and the fifth of his career with a commanding drive.

It continued the Dutchman’s impressive run of form since the summer break, with Verstappen only failing to appear on the podium on two occasions in Italy and Russia.

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When asked if Verstappen is now ready to fight for a title, Horner replied: “I think absolutely.

“If we’ve had an engine that is anywhere near the ballpark of our opponents, then we’ve got a strong enough team and strong enough driver package to take the fight to them.

“We’re obviously hopeful that the Honda, with the progress they’re making, will put us into a situation where we’re more regularly able to compete. We are here with the optimum downforce on the car, the optimum setting on the car.

“I think it’s right up there [with his best wins]. This is what, his fifth victory now? It’s equal to last year and it’s impressive.

“He has an awful loads of capacity in the car,” he added. “I think he’s got a very good racing brain as well. So he’s wanting to understand what’s going on in the rest of the race to match his pace accordingly.

“At a Grand Prix where you’ve got a car that is that good, he’s demonstrated time and time again how good he is in managing his tyres. We saw that in Austin. I think he just wanted to see what potential was there and I’m sure the engine was turned down, so there wasn’t any risk at all.”

Verstappen endured a tough start to the campaign but has recovered strongly to sit just 20 points behind third-place man Kimi Raikkonen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds to go.

“I think it’s all part of his growth with experience,” Horner said. “He went through a tough path in the beginning of the year.

“But really, since Montreal, he’s doing some incredible races and I think with experience that was really the only missing piece.

“All drivers make mistakes, you see that up and down the paddock. It’s what you learn from them.”

Verstappen revealed advice from his father Jos helped him reel in his performances after a mistake-ridden start to the year.

“The difference is I just listen to myself,” Verstappen explained. “I do my own thing, even if there are a lot of things written, I really don’t care.

“My dad always told me in go-karting, back in the day, if I was maybe overdriving or something, he would always tell me “Max, even if you think you are not going fast enough, it’s still fast enough”.

“So basically, for my feeling, I just backed it out a little bit and that seems to make me a bit faster.”

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