Red Bull boss Christian Horner hints at behind the scenes drama in ‘intense’ Mercedes duel

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner has opened up about his “intense” behind-the-scenes competition with Mercedes, after publicly spatting with his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff this season. Horner and Wolff were at each other’s throats all season as their two drivers Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battled it out for the world championship on track.

Mercedes successfully defended their Constructors’ title but it was Red Bull who beat them to the Drivers’ title as Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the final lap of the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

The pair often duelled on track, with many heated words shared between the pair, yet Wolff and Horner had their own arguments off-track ranging from threats of protests regarding rear wings, claims of cheating, and several trips to the stewards’ offices.

Admitting it took its toll, Horner admitted: “It’s been intensely competitive on-track and off-track.

“We’ve started a Powertrains business as well in the UK, and we’ve had an awful lot of talent join from Mercedes.

“There’s been an awful lot of lobbying, particularly earlier in the year, even initially about the regulations, and the legality of the regulations coming into the year.

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“[There’s] an awful lot of stuff that you guys [the media] won’t even be aware of – it’s been intense; it’s been tough.”

Red Bull were the underdogs in 2021 with Mercedes having dominated the turbo-hybrid era since 2014 and Hamilton taking his total to seven world championships.

But 2022 will see a whole new range of challenges as F1 will introduce its new regulations, with teams exploring new aerodynamic concepts as well as cars yielding 18-inch tyres.

The regulations have been introduced to shake up the championship and encourage more exciting racing with the cars designed around ground-effect aerodynamics, which could change up the order this season.

Yet Horner believes after Red Bull’s 2021 performance, there could be some surprises to come.

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“I think I’ve learned that anything’s possible,” commented Horner, when asked what he can take from the season.

“If you’d have said that the end of [2020] that you’ll be in Abu Dhabi, 22 races in, equal on points in the Drivers’, still in the Constructors’ Championship, albeit with a long shot, after Mercedes dominated the 2020 season with arguably their most dominant car, I don’t think anybody would have believed you.

“I think we’d have bitten your arm off to be in that position, so I think it demonstrates that if you believe in something, and you have the right group of people around you, and you push to the maximum, you can achieve great things.

“I think [with] Honda we have a lot to be grateful for. We will be sorry to say goodbye to them; they played a key role this year.

“You’re always learning in life, but I think that it’s been a phenomenal year for the team and all our partners and drivers.”

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