Horner: Paranoia must not creep into Red Bull F1 driver battle
With Red Bull’s RB19 proving to be the class of the field and well clear of the opposition, the fight for the drivers’ championship appears to be exclusively between its drivers.
Such an internal rivalry has proved hard for squads to deal with in the past because it heightens the prospects of competitive tensions boiling over.
Horner is well aware of the dangers that such a scenario poses, but he thinks that as long as his team does all it can to treat both Verstappen and Perez equally on all fronts, there will not be any problems.
“I think that it’s a luxury problem,” said Horner when asked by Motorsport.com about what was the biggest challenge in dealing with two drivers gunning for the title.
“First of all, any team principal in the pitlane would hope to have that issue, and it’s something we’ve experienced before.
“The most key thing is to ensure that paranoia doesn’t creep in and that both drivers are treated equally.
“You go to pains to provide equality to the point of who drives out the garage first each weekend. They even alternate in the debrief over who talks first.
“But you know, it’s racing, it’s Formula 1, and occasionally something will happen like a safety car or pitstop. You can’t control every aspect within the sport and there are still variables.
“I think so long as the drivers know that they’re both getting an equal chance, and it’s ultimately down to what they do on the circuit. That’s where you want it to play out, not through reliability, for example, to play a key role in a championship fight between your two drivers within your own team.”
The Mercedes perspective
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG, in the Team Principals Press Conference
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has faced his own challenges in the past in dealing with difficult situations between drivers, especially when Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton came to blows several times.
He is aware of how hard it can be to see through such situations – which is why he thinks total transparency between them is essential.
“From my past it’s a super tricky job for Christian and the team, because both drivers will obviously try to always feel that they are fairly and equally treated whilst at the same time trying to have an advantage,” he said.
“In our team it was important to maintain a lot of transparency and clarity, have discussions before we actually go racing on a Sunday, and put boundaries.
“At the end, both drivers, even with Nico and Lewis, respected the team’s opinion whilst we acknowledged that there is a fight, and they have a fight on between the two of them. So going back in time, there’s things I probably would have done differently in 2016, particularly.
“But getting the balance right between accepting that these two guys are racing for a championship, and it’s within the same garage, and at the same time, they are part of a larger structure. I think that’s not always easy, because they are very competitive animals.”