Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, has revealed that he and Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, had an intense argument at last year’s British Grand Prix.
Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen did battle last season in a humdinger of a title race, but there were multiple incidents that put a negative spin on the excitement.
The first of those took place at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone, after the Dutchman had taken pole by winning the sprint race.
The two drivers went wheel-to-wheel for the majority of the opening lap, and they were on the same piece of asphalt as they approached Copse.
With the Dutchman on the outside, the pair made contact, sending the Red Bull flying off into the barrier.
The 51G collision sent the 24-year-old to the hospital for precautionary checks, and Hamilton was given a penalty.
Despite that, the 37-year-old came back through the field, and passed Charles Leclerc late on to claim his eighth home win.
Wolff was arguing that the seven-time champion did not deserve to be punished for the crash, and it was one of the first occasions last year that we truly heard a team principal speaking with race director, Michael Masi.
That same radio lobbying was heard in Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi after further incidents, and it was at the latter of those races where the title was controversially decided by a bizarre Safety Car restart.
Direct conversations with the race director have been restricted this year as a result, but the intense rivalry between Red Bull and Mercedes started after the lap one crash in Towcester.
“It really permeated at Silverstone where suddenly there was an awful lot of dialogue from Toto to Michael,” Horner said on the Beyond the Grid Podcast.
“Then he’s sending him an email, and then he’s coming up, and I thought, ‘Right, okay, I’m not having that, I’m going up.’”
The 48-year-old did not feel it was fair that Red Bull were not being given a right of reply, so he and Wolff came to verbal blows.
“I felt it was incredibly one sided that a team principal should not be able to lobby and influence the race director and with hindsight, Toto and I had a fairly heated exchange in race control,” explained Horner.
“At that event, where Toto was obviously arguing his corner that his driver shouldn’t be penalised, and I’ve got a driver in hospital and the car taken out of the race and was obviously feeling pretty aggrieved by it.”
Verstappen looks set to wrap up his second world title in the next two rounds in Singapore and Japan.