Former F1 world champion Damon Hill has questioned the heated rivalry between Red Bull team boss Christian Horner and his Mercedes counterpart, Toto Wolff. Insults were hurled in both directions last year as tensions flared during a ferocious title run-in.
A dramatic Abu Dhabi finale saw the top prizes split between Mercedes and Red Bull as the Silver Arrows claimed the Constructors’ Championship and Max Verstappen clinched the drivers’ title.
Wolff and Horner regularly fired shots at each other during interviews as the Silver Arrows’ streak of dominance was pushed right to the edge.
With the newest season of Netflix’s Drive to Survive released on Friday, a new wave of insults are now out in the open.
In one example, Horner claimed that Wolff ‘inherited’ Mercedes’ success and ‘did not have to build anything’.
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As a man who has a well-qualified opinion on F1 rivalries, 22-time Grand Prix winner Hill gave Express Sport his view on whether the animosity is authentic.
“The way Netflix has promoted what we do in F1 to a wider audience has been phenomenal,” said the Sky Sports F1 expert.
“It has changed the terrain quite a lot.
“First of all, the character was Guenther Steiner, and it looks like Toto and Christian want to get in on the act.
“I think they’ve tried to provide fuel for the show.
“I thought it got a little bit unseemly at times last year. I hope it was mostly acting. I don’t think it did us any favours that they were being quite abusive.
“Toto has come out and said he regrets that he let it get to that point.
“This was a theme of last year, the way Red Bull were on full attack mode. They’re a very effective competitor and they don’t take prisoners.”
Indeed, the claws could re-emerge this year if Mercedes and Red Bull produce closely-matched cars out on track.
There is no guarantee of that, though, as the Mercedes camp have expressed concerns over what they viewed as a troubling duo of pre-season tests.
Lewis Hamilton stated that he does not expect to be fighting for wins in Bahrain, with the Championship set to get underway on March 20.
Verstappen was quick to shoot those claims down, however, with the mind games already up and running.
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