The paddock was a particularly lively place to be during the 2022 season eclipsing the squabbles and fall outs amongst the teams from 2021 by some margin. Of course the result in Abu Dhabi created mayhem, but the butt of the criticism was aimed at the FIA and not the usual war of words between Mercedes and Red Bull.
The battle for Oscar Piastri soured the summer break for Alpine as the decision was quickly made by the FIA’s contract board ruled in favour of McLaren. As Zak Brown told speed cafe this week, ”He’s a 21-year-old and a big OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer, Renault/Alpine) making allegations and taking it to court.”
F1 Paddock wars upped the anti in 2022
“Then you have to be a tough character as a 21-year-old not to be unphased by that. He didn’t get into a war of words even though Otmar (Szafnauer, Alpine team boss) said some unpleasant and inaccurate statements,” concluded the McLaren team boss.
Mercedes cried foul over their porpoising issues in an attempt to persuade the FIA to change the car design regulations mid-season. This led to the predictable row between the respective team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner.
Wolff attacks Horner as “pitiful”
Following a meeting between the teams and the FIA in Canada over certain teams cars bouncing in the extreme, Wolff came out and without naming names handed out a verbal diatribe aimed at rival Christian Horner.
“Team principals trying to manipulate what is being said in order to keep the competitive advantage, and trying to play political games when the FIA tries to come up with a quick solution to at least put the cars in a better position, is disingenuous,” said Wolff
“This is a joint problem we are having as Formula 1… this is a design issue that needs to be solved. We have long-term effects [for the drivers] that we can’t even judge.
But at any time this is a safety risk and then coming up with little manipulations in the background, or Chinese whispers, or briefing the drivers is just pitiful,” the Mercedes team boss concluded.
Red Bull boss calls Wolff for “play acting” a melodrama
Horner responded by observing it was Mercedes in particular who were suffering from the bouncing and that maybe the issue was with their design team rather than the rest of the F1 grid.
Netflix had been present at the meeting and Horner concluded by quipping, ”I think there was an element of theatre going on in that meeting.”
“So maybe with Lewis’s new movie coming along he’s [Toto] getting in role for it!”
Mercedes claim Red Bull spending breach “massively heavyweight”
Yet the biggest paddock war of words not seen for years was saved for the end of season run in events.
During round 17 of 22 in Singapore it was leaked that Red Bull Racing were in breach of the cost cap. Toto Wolff went on the offensive in a big way.
Despite there being no firm information from the FIA whether Red Bull were in breach or by how much, Toto espoused his views to the media: “That’s heavyweight, that’s a massively heavyweight issue,” he said. “We are using used parts.
Horner denies FIA have found RB in cost cap breach
When Horner was asked about there matter he claimed he knew nothing of any overspend.
The Austrian boss of Mercedes was incandescent and told assembled media, “it’s funny that Christian says that, because it’s been weeks and months they’re being investigated, so maybe he doesn’t speak to his CFO [chief financial officer].”
“As a matter of fact, all of us have been investigated diligently. As far as we understand, there’s a team in minor breach which is more procedural, and another team that is fundamentally, massively over and that is still being looked at. So that’s an open secret in the paddock.
McLaren F1 boss calls Red Bull “cheats”
Prior to the FIA releasing their findings that Red Bull were in a ‘minor breach’ of the cost cap, Zak Brown wrote to the FIA giving his thoughts that a team in a breach of any kind was in fact “cheating,” and should be punished harshly.
FOM set up the team principals’ press conference in Austin Texas so Brown and Horner were sat together. The Red Bull boss slammed Brown for making “”shocking” accusations of cheating, claiming there has been “weeks of effective abuse” and threatened “defamation” legal action were the matter to persist.
Red Bull ban employees from talking to Sky F1
At the same event Sky F1’s reporter Ted Kravitz did a mock piece on how Brad Pitt might write a script for his upcoming film that included Lewis Hamilton taking revenge on Verstappen for his “robbed” title in 2021.
The Red Bull team then boycott all interviews with Sky at the next event in Mexico. Christian Horner explained, “Max was upset. We were upset and we made the decision to stand together as a team.
It won’t have done Sky any harm for us to lay down a marker. Some of the commentary is fair but some pieces are sensationalist and saying we robbed anyone of the championship, as was said in Austin, is going too far. It is not impartial or fair or balanced.”
Coulthard defends media’s “right to interpret”
Now ex-Red Bull driver and Channel 4 pundit David Coulthard defends the media’s “right to interpret the situation”.
Speaking to Mirror Sport, the Scott explained: “People are people and you can’t put the genie back in the box.
We’ve created all these outlets and, for those who are angry or extremely opinionated, it’s an opportunity for them to talk to those who can be influenced by it. Then there’s the ‘Piers Morgan’ style, where you take an extreme position and, without crossing any libellous lines, it gets talked about.
“You could argue that’s good ‘business journalism’, because you’re dragging people towards your articles and comments. Just because someone is an educated wordsmith, it doesn’t mean they are not commercially driven.
“A little bit of controversy is a good way to build some hype. I think we all agree that everything which publicly or privately threatens an individual cannot be a good thing and cannot be accepted.”
We can but speculate at present over the paddock rumbles to be for 2023. Yet it will certainly see battle resumed between Red Bull and Mercedes together with more criticism of the FIA’s race control team and the stewards unless they raise their game.
2022, it’s a wrap 🎬
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) December 29, 2022