Christian Horner believes there’s “less b******t” in this year’s Formula One title fight between Red Bull and Ferrari compared to his team’s rivalry with Mercedes in 2021.
Last year was one of the most dramatic seasons in F1 history as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton fought for the championship.
It was won by Verstappen under controversial circumstances due to Michael Masi’s decision to restart the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with one lap to go, which gave the Dutchman the chance to overtake Hamilton on the last lap.
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There was also lots of debate off the track with flexi-wings, crashes and unfair penalties, which caused friction between team bosses Horner and Toto Wolff.
This season has been very different with Red Bull and Ferrari getting on much better despite the close battle on track, and racing between Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
“There’s a respect between the two teams that is extremely competitive,” Horner told Eurosport. “We’re going head-to-head at each race and there is a genuine respect between the drivers and teams which is good to see.
“Certainly, today it’s been a competition that’s been about what’s happening on the track. There’s not been a lot of politics and b******t with what’s going on off the track.”
Red Bull lead the constructors’ championship by 82 points from Ferrari having won eight Grand Prix this season, whilst Verstappen has a 63-point advantage over Leclerc following his victory at the French Grand Prix as his main rival crashed out from the lead.
Verstappen says the points gap is “bigger than it should have been” after numerous mistakes and reliability failures from Ferrari.
Red Bull suffered reliability problems during the early part of the season, but Ferrari have had their own problems since Leclerc’s engine blow out at the Spanish GP, which marked the start of a series of mistakes.
“Ferrari have a great car,” said Horner. “I think they are a bit better than we are over the kerbs. We have a very aerodynamically slippery car so it’s quick on the straights.
“So it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other and it ends up with a very similar lap time. It’s just achieved in a different way. It’s been massively close at pretty much every race we've been to so far this year.
“It’s all about who’s going to get it right on the day, tyre wear, temperatures, pit stops, strategy, that’s all crucial.
“It’s been very, very close. I think we’ve grabbed our opportunities perhaps a little more in the first half of the year but I’m expecting it to be very tight in the second half.”
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