Last year's World Championship was a season-long struggle between the two drivers, with Verstappen's Red Bull overtaking Hamilton on the final lap of the season in contentious circumstances, finishing one of the most intensely contested seasons in Formula 1 history in spectacular fashion.
Several on-track crashes puncutated the year, notably a high-speed crash on the opening lap at Silverstone that saw Verstappen hitting the wall at Copse, generating a tremendous 51G impact and necessitating hospital assessment.
When the two tagged wheels into the first chicane at Monza, Verstappen car ended up on top of Hamilton's Mercedes, and tensions between the duo worsened as the championship race heated up.
In contrast to wheel-to-wheel battle with Charles Leclerc this season, Horner feels the two have a distinct racing style due to the length of time they have battled against each other, as opposed to the champion-challenger dynamic with Hamilton.
But, Horner can't recall ever hearing the Mercedes driver commend his adversary on his talent.
On a podcast appearance of Beyond the Grid, Horner states, "You know, there’s a difference, there’s perhaps a different respect with Charles,”
“They raced each other since [being] kids, and there was a mutual respect. I’ve never once ever heard Lewis recognise Max’s ability. And so of course, there was just a bit more needle to it and you could feel that, and you could sense that between those two drivers.”
Verstappen was not "in awe" of Hamilton or "afraid" to battle him at close quarters last year. Hamilton deserves full respect for the career he has carved out for himself.
However, the battle appeared to become personal at times, Verstappen and Red Bull criticizing Hamilton for celebrating victory at Silverstone while he was hospitalized.
Horner believes the struggle became psychological as well as an on-track one with so much on the line in a tight title chase.
When Horner was asked if Verstappen-Hamilton were in each other's heads last season, to his response, "I think arguably, maybe more so in Lewis’ head.
“Because he’s the seven-time World Champion that has everything to lose, Max is the young kid that’s taking the risks, that’s throwing everything at it, and got nothing to lose. Some of his overtaking last year was stunning and you felt that started to rattle Lewis, I think.
“We definitely saw after Lewis qualified on pole at Silverstone and Max won the sprint race you saw Lewis, he was a bit broken after the sprint race. Had Max made it through Copse [Corner], I don’t think they’d have seen him again that afternoon, so there was an air of desperation building in as well.
“It was high stakes stuff and your emotions run high, but it probably affected Lewis arguably more than Max because, as I say, he’d got more to lose than Max. Max had everything to gain.”