Compared to Mercedes in 2021, Horner sees less resentment towards Ferrari and a degree of greater respect between Verstappen and Leclerc. The Red Bull team boss also believes the world championship battle at the front of the field against Scuderia Ferrari is actually much different to last year’s battle with Mercedes and Hamilton, not least because of the lack of “animosity”.
In the first two races of the 2022 season, Max Verstappen [Red Bull] and Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] have had some great battles on track, giving the fans a great show as at no point did either of them cross the red line, always remaining very clean in their attack or defence whether in Bahrain or in Jeddah last weekend. For the Red Bull boss, the fact that Leclerc and Verstappen have raced against each other in karting as youngsters clearly helps to give us some very clean battles on track.
“I think you can see two fantastic young drivers who have probably been racing against each other since they were 10 or 11 years old and they are now in two very competitive Formula 1s,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“The battles in these first two races have been phenomenal, and you can see there’s a lot of respect between these two and these cars seem easier to follow and drive in these battles against each other. The sample on offer in these first two races is really exciting.”
Last year Red Bull battled Mercedes for both world championships and there was some tension at times on track between Hamilton and Verstappen and off track with team bosses Christian Horner and Toto Wolff. But when discussing the early season battle with Scuderia Ferrari, Horner admits that the situation is different and there is less animosity:
“Racing against Ferrari is always slightly different. They are a historic team in Formula 1, and there is not that animosity that has developed with our other rivals [Mercedes]. ”
As for Mercedes, the Red Bull boss believes the reigning world champion team will be quick to respond to their early-season problems and believes they will be relied upon to join the battle at the front of the grid very soon:
“Mercedes will bounce back, I have no doubt, but we just need to focus on ourselves and continue to evolve and develop this car.”
“It’s just great that there’s another team involved in the race at the front of the field, but when Mercedes get their issues sorted out there will be potentially six drivers competing every weekend and for the fans that will be fantastic.”