Former Formula 1 world champion Damon Hill has said that he does not believe the rivalry between Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is as real as they would like to have fans believe.
Horner and Wolff went head to head on a number of occasions throughout the 2021 season as Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton battled it out for the world championship.
There were plenty of verbal battles between the two team bosses, who were often emotionally fueled following controversial races.
Horner has also recently criticised Mercedes for “intimidating” the stewards after the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Races in Britain, Hungary, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi – to name a few – all turned into metaphorical fighting arenas for Wolff and Horner, drawing more and more fans into an engaging fight.
Hill, who won his sole F1 world title in 1996 with Williams, is not so sure that the rivalry between the two is quite as legitimate as one might think.
“I think it’s a front, actually. I think it’s a front that they’ve put on,” Hill told the F1 Nation Podcast.
Hill also says it is a shame to see the polarising effect that the title race had on Mercedes and Red Bull.
“It’s just so sad, that you have these two camps. They’re both experiencing all the pressure, and all the same or similar kind of experiences. The victories, the defeats, and the kind of rivalry and all that they’re experiencing.”
The 61-year-old, however, appreciates that there is one prize, and both teams desperately want it.
“But they can’t share it together, do you know what I mean? Maybe one day, when the war is over, they’ll be able to have a cup of tea together.”
Hill’s Sky F1 colleague Natalie Pinkham disagrees though. Asked if she also reckons the rivalry is a façade, she replied: “I don’t.”
Pinkham also said that Horner and Wolff would have no interest in enjoying some down time together away from the racetrack.
“I think they’re very different people, who actually probably wouldn’t really enjoy a beer together. I just think they’re different people. They’re both great, but they’re very different and it’s the same with Max and Lewis.”
While Pinkham is uneasy with the idea that there is any personal hatred towards one another, she struggles to see how they could get on.
“They don’t dislike each other, but they would never sit down and have a natter and a bowl of pasta together.
“I think we’re talking about very different characters.”
Red Bull and Mercedes are expected to go head to head again in 2022, with George Russell replacing Valtteri Bottas at the Silver Arrows and the Milton Keynes-based team retaining Verstappen and Sergio Perez.