Horner: Of course the rivalry is intense
By Mat Coch
Friday 6th August, 2021 - 2:06pm
The rivalry between Red Bull and Mercedes is naturally intense as they battle for the 2021 Formula 1 world championships, reasons Christian Horner.
Team principal of Red Bull, Horner has found himself in the headlines for an ongoing war of words with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
An opening lap crash at the British Grand Prix saw things boil over in Silverstone with Horner openly critical of Lewis Hamilton.
However, it was not the first salvo in the off-track war between the two teams, with flexible rear wings having been a key battleground earlier in the season.
That resulted in a technical directive effectively outlawing Red Bull’s rear wing, which was seen to deflect under high load.
It also prompted Horner to question the legality of Mercedes’ front wing for exactly the same reason.
“Formula 1’s a competitive business, it’s competitive on-track, it’s competitive off-track,” Horner reasoned.
“Obviously this year we’ve already seen sagas over pitstops, flexi wings, amongst other issues that you guys aren’t even aware of.
“But the competition is fierce, and in a competition like we’re in, it’s all about marginal gains, about leaving no stone unturned. It’s fiercely fought.”
The challenge posed by Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship, and Red Bull in the constructors’ fight, is the first time since 2019 that Mercedes has faced a battle for the title.
In that instance, Sebastian Vettel was the antagonist, though his strong start to the season faded by mid-year.
A crash at the tumultuous German Grand Prix, while leading, all but ended those hopes.
Even then, Mercedes maintained the upper hand, not something that can be said for 2021 when the team endured its longest spell between race wins since 2014.
“It’s the first time that Mercedes have been in this position in the hybrid era,” Horner said.
“Our focus is on trying to get the most performance that we can out of our drivers, out of our cars, out of the whole team, and I think the whole team has done a phenomenal job in the first half of the year.
“It’s all about what we do in the second half of the year.
“Of course, that rivalry will be intense, and I hope that there’s no precedent set from what happened at the British Grand Prix.
“But, you know, it’s inevitable, in a sport like we’re in, with what’s at stake, that there will be strong competition on-track and off-track, because that’s Formula 1.
“Ultimately, the biggest benefactor from that is the viewers in seeing hopefully an exciting and fair competition.”
Following the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Verstappen nursed a wounded Red Bull to ninth, Hamilton holds an eight-point advantage over the Dutchman in the drivers’ championship.
There are 12 points between the two teams, Mercedes having surpassed its rival to resume the lead in the constructors’ championship.
Formula 1 resumes following the summer break at the Belgian Grand Prix on August 27-29 for Round 12 of this season’s 23 race schedule.