Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has said that the late Niki Lauda would have been able to diffuse tensions between Mercedes and Red Bull during the 2021 season.
The two teams butted heads on several occasions throughout the year, with the situation coming to a head at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Both were on the radio to race director Michael Masi in the closing stages of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix following a late Safety Car. This all led to a controversial decision from the Australian to allow only five lapped cars through, leaving Max Verstappen able to pass Sir Lewis Hamilton for the championship on the very last lap of the race.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull’s Christian Horner were constantly at odds throughout the year, with petulant and stinging comments being thrown more and more ferociously as the season progressed.
In October, Dutch journalist Jack Plooij suggested that Lauda, the three-time champion and former non-executive chairman of Mercedes, would not have let things boil over like they did.
“I think Niki Lauda is missed at Mercedes. Niki had lunch with Helmut Marko every day. I think a lot of fires were put out there. Maybe we never saw those arise, but now we do,” he said.
Plooij believes that Niki would have told Dr Marko to calm Horner down, while he himself would have spoken to Wolff.
“I think Niki would have given Helmut the order: ‘Keep Horner in his box for a while, then I’ll do it with Toto’.”
Marko agrees with this standpoint, affirming that his compatriot would likely traverse the season “with more composure.”
“It would not have escalated so much with Niki Lauda, It would certainly have been tough, because he doesn’t like to lose either. But it would have gone with more composure,” Marko told Servus TV.
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has also weighed in on the controversial tensions between Mercedes and Red Bull, believing that there is no purpose served by the rivals being at each other’s throats.
“Those who live with certainties mean they sleep well,” Domenicali joked when asked about how he thinks relations will be next year.
The former Ferrari team principal believes that the issues at the head of the grid need to be fixed before the beginning of the new year.
“But we have many doubts and we have to face them. We have issues that will eventually have to be managed. We will have to evaluate day-by-day the relationship that must be recovered between Red Bull and Mercedes to avoid the personal clashes we have seen that serve no benefit.”
While Verstappen beat Hamilton to the drivers’ title, Mercedes did manage to secure their record eighth-straight constructors’ title in Abu Dhabi.