Damon Hill has likened the off-track feud between Red Bull boss Christian Horner and his title rival Toto Wolff, at Mercedes, to watching Britain’s Got Talent, putting it down to the pressure of the epic 2021 Formula 1 World Championship.
Horner and Wolff have engaged in a war of words throughout the campaign, ramping up as the season reaches a climax. We even dubbed them #SpiceBoy and #CryWolff!
The pair were interviewed last weekend before the Qatar Grand Prix, during a press conference that will go down as one of the classics.
Set with the backdrop of countless barbs directed at one another, they only agree on one thing: there will be no exchanging of Christmas cards this festive season.
Ahead of this weekend’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the 21st round of a gruelling 22-round season, 1996 world champion Hill weighed in on the headline-grabbing verbal sparring between title-contending team principals.
With Horner in Max Verstappen’s corner, the Dutch ace seeking his first F1 Title, Wolff is doing the same for Lewis Hamilton. The British knight hunting an unprecedented eighth F1 World Champion Crown.
He lies eight points adrift of Max in top spot, with only unknown Jeddah and familiar Abu Dhabi to go.
Asked about the root of the squabble, Hill told PA news agency: “There’s definitely pressure and anxiety. It is getting so close and so tight.
“All that hard work and there must have been times this season where [Red Bull] thought ‘this is doable’ and when you see the gap closing, I wouldn’t say it creates panic in the ranks but it must be exhausting. So the stresses are starting to show and the tension between the two team bosses was something I’ve not seen before.
“It usually took place, probably on phone calls and in Bernie’s office years ago or something. But to actually put it on display like that in the press conference was a new thing where it was a little bit like watching Britain’s Got Talent, wasn’t it?
“It’s publicly probing for the weak-point and the weak spots in people’s persona and that was slightly uncomfortable to watch, but then I suppose it’s understandable,” reckoned Hill.
Like all F1 fans, he too is relishing the title fight between the two teams, at the end of an era totally dominated by Mercedes as well as the no-holds-barred contest between the two best drivers of this era, if not all time.
Weighing in on the Real Deal Duel, Hill said: “This is boom time really for F1. After the new management moved in there were some doubts as to whether or not they completely understood F1, but I think they’ve shown they understand something.
“This has been a great season, we haven’t had a season like this for a very long time in the points difference between teams over going back over the last 10 years.
“This is really close and I can’t remember a season where the title contenders have led and then been behind and they led again and then been behind so often – is there another season where it’s swapped lead so many times? I can’t think of one.
“Maybe there is one more swap to go!” added Hill.