For the first time since the controversial finale of the 2021 Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi, Toto Wolff and Christian Horner appeared together in public on Wednesday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, and both agreed to draw a line under what happened last year and move on.
The relationship between the Team Principals of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Oracle Red Bull Racing broke down last year as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen fought over the Drivers’ Championship.
And it all came to a head in the finale in Abu Dhabi as Verstappen took the title after controversies over the legality of the safety car restart that ultimately cost FIA Race Director Michael Masi his job.
However, despite a difference of opinion over what happened to his Red Bull counterpart, Wolff says it is important for Formula 1 to close that particular chapter and move on and focus on the new season ahead in 2022.
“It’s to be expected. It got fierce at times and brutal. But there’s a lot at stake,” Wolff is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “It’s a Formula 1 world championship, and there’s the fighting on track, and the fighting off track for advantages. So that’s okay.
“But we need to move on. There’s been so much talk about Abu Dhabi, that it came to a point that it is really damaging for all of us stakeholders of F1, and we’ve closed the chapter and moved on. Now it’s about 2022, the game is on again, all points to zero, and new opportunity and new risk.”
Horner was in agreement as Red Bull’s focus has switched fully over to the 2022 season and the new regulations, but he says it is important to reset the relationship with Wolff and try and avoid it becoming as broken as it was at times last year.
“I think that maybe we share differences of opinion over Abu Dhabi, but that’s all done and dusted, and all focus is very much now on 2022,” Horner said. “I think what you did see last year was a fantastic competition from the first race to the last race.
“I think that’s been a key part of Formula 1’s revival in popularity. It has been that competition, and so certainly we hope that there’s going to be an equally exciting year, although ideally a little less exciting at times.
“I think there could be some other competitors joining that battle as well. So particularly with a clean sheet of paper, with these brand new cars, it’s a complete reset.
“It’s arguably the biggest regulation change in the last 40 years, but I’m sure the intensity of rivalry between the teams and the drivers will be as pertinent as ever.”