Later in the 2022 season, Red Bull boss Christian Horner expects his team’s rivalry with Ferrari to become more heated.
Red Bull are certainly no strangers to rivalries with a bit of needle to them, the team’s clash with Mercedes over the 2021 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships serving as the prime example.
While the action on track was fierce between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, there was plenty of heat off the circuit too with Horner and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff regularly engaging in verbal conflict.
Verstappen later claimed those tensions made his rivalry with Hamilton look more intense than it really was.
But with the change of regulations for 2022, a new title challenger has emerged for Red Bull in the form of Ferrari.
Verstappen and Charles Leclerc look set to be the protagonists in the 2022 title battle, a duo who are no strangers to some tension, that stretching back to their karting days as well as in Formula 1.
So far though, all of their battles have been conducted cleanly, while Red Bull and Ferrari are keeping it calm and respectful back in the paddock.
Of course, we are only five races into the 22-race season, with an increase back to 23 races still very much possible, so the real business end of the campaign remains some way off.
And with that in mind, Horner is sure that eventually the Red Bull-Ferrari battle will become a bit more spicy.
“Last year there was a lot of needle, a lot going on off track as well as on track, whereas this year seems much more focused about what’s going on on track,” Horner told reporters ahead of the Miami Grand Prix.
“And I think the racing has been great between Charles and Max. And the first four races have been epic. If that continues through the season, inevitably it will boil over at some point as it gets more competitive and the stakes get higher in the second half of the year.
“But certainly what we’ve seen so far has been very respectful racing – hard racing but fair racing.”
For now, it is a two-horse race at the front between Ferrari and Red Bull, with Mercedes still struggling to elevate their W13 to that level.
George Russell gave brief hope of a breakthrough in Miami, topping the second practice session, but the Silver Arrows slipped back again from there.
Russell started the race P12, but after his strategy gamble had paid off with the emergence of the Virtual Safety Car, he finished P5 ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton in P6.
Mercedes have a lot of time to find if they are to catch Ferrari and Red Bull this season, but Horner expects their rival from last year to return to the fight at the front “fairly soon”.
“I think you will see Mercedes joining that party fairly soon,” Horner predicted.
With victory in Miami, Verstappen reduced his deficit to Leclerc at the top of the Drivers’ Championship to 19 points.
Red Bull, meanwhile, closed to within six points of Ferrari in the Constructors’.
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