Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is a lot happier with his team’s battle with Ferrari than he was with the controversial title fight with Mercedes in 2021.
Red Bull and Mercedes were at each other’s throats throughout last season as Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton battled hard for the Drivers’ Championship, and there was drama everywhere.
Fans of the two drivers were constantly bickering on social media, Horner and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff were constantly taking aim at each other in interviews, and Verstappen and Hamilton came together on track a few times too.
Incidents in Silverstone, Monza, Brazil and Jeddah were among several bones of contention on and off the track, and it culminated just as controversially as the whole season had gone.
Verstappen and Hamilton went into the final round in Abu Dhabi level on points, and it looked as though the 37-year-old was about to win his eighth crown, before a late controversial decision from Michael Masi opened the door for Verstappen to win his maiden title.
Since then, things have changed. Mercedes have struggled under the new technical regulations, and neither Hamilton nor George Russell have won a race.
Instead, the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have stepped up to challenge Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and the two teams have won all of the first 13 races of the season between them.
Verstappen and Leclerc have treated us to some scintillating battles on track, but there have been no incidents yet, and everything has been very clean so far.
The pair grew up racing each other and, while there has been some controversy between them in karting, there has never been a personal feud.
This is why Horner is “not really” missing battling Mercedes, and he indicated that there is perhaps more “respect” being shown than there was last campaign.
“Those two drivers have grown up with each other since they were kids, there’s a lot of respect between the two of them,” he said, quoted by the Express.
“There’s not the needle perhaps, or the tension that there was last year, I think the racing has been sensational this year and hopefully long may it continue.”
Hamilton and Russell have scored 11 podiums between them this season, and with new regulations coming into play in Belgium this weekend, there may yet be a chance that the Silver Arrows could find themselves on the top step at some stage in 2022.