Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff had admitted that he regrets his intense verbal battle with Red Bull boss Christian Horner last season.
The two teams went head-to-head in a gargantuan battle that saw Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen battle for the Drivers’ Championship, with the Constructors’ Championship also on the line between Mercedes and Red Bull.
The two teams took out 20 of the 22 possible race wins in a season almost entirely dominated by the Brackley and Milton Keynes outfits, and their proximity on track – particularly Hamilton and Verstappen – often led to some unsavoury clashes.
Notable incidents took place in Silverstone, Monza, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the fight became incrementally more intense.
However, it was not just on track that things persistently threatened to boil over.
The two team bosses were constantly aiming verbal jibes at one another – partially in an attempt at mind games, and occasionally through sheer annoyance.
Ultimately, Wolff laments how personal it became.
“I really regret it,” he said in conversation with Formule 1 Magazine.
“I always try to stay professional and approach things professionally. It got very personal between the two of us at some point, that’s right.”
He picked out a particular example of the animosity early on in the season, when Red Bull’s “flexi-wing” was being investigated.
“He told me to ‘keep my mouth shut’ and then I responded by saying he was a windbag and talked too much for the cameras. I shouldn’t have said that.
“It’s a professional relationship and you know that even your worst enemy has a best friend, so you have to respect that person, even if you fight a hard duel in a professional environment.”
The Austrian reveals that his wife and Venturi Formula E boss Susie tried to discourage him from personal clashes with the Briton.
“Susie pointed that out to me very clearly,” he added.
“She said, ‘Why are you having these kinds of discussions? You’re trying to win, respect that. Even if someone goes in that direction, you don’t have to’. That’s called female social intelligence!”
As a result, the 50-year-old jovially suggests that testosterone can often have the beating of brain power in men.
“We sometimes have too many hormones,” stated Wolff.
Verstappen beat Hamilton to the title in Abu Dhabi following a controversial late Safety Car restart that led to a final lap overtake by the Dutchman.
Mercedes, however, beat Red Bull to the Constructors’ Championship, claiming their record eighth consecutive title.
The FIA are currently investigating the late events at the Yas Marina Circuit in December and will conclude their report on 18 March, two days before the commencement of the 2022 campaign in Bahrain.