Nico Rosberg feels Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is winning the war against Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner, making his title rival “look like the bad guys”.
It has not just been Lewis Hamilton v Max Verstappen and Mercedes v Red Bull this season, but Wolff v Horner has also been a key battle in the first half of the campaign to the point where, on occasion, it has become the main event of Formula 1.
The duo have traded verbal blows throughout the season and the latest chapter in their spat took place in Hungary, with Horner rejecting Wolff’s apology after witnessing yet another Mercedes car – Valtteri Bottas driving this time – wreck Red Bull’s chances of success at the Hungaroring on the very first lap.
However, whilst it has been Mercedes causing the damage, the 2016 World Champion believes his former boss is still doing a great job in making Red Bull out to be the villains in this fascinating title story.
“Management is crucial and Toto has been managing it very well,” Rosberg told Sky F1.
“He is really making Red Bull look like more and more the bad guys now with [them] trying to protest and all these things.
“He’s super-smart as well with playing the media game and also internally, really revving everyone up to try and beat them together.”
As for the Red Bull corner, Rosberg thinks they have not been quite as “smart” as Wolff and Mercedes, and thinks they have put themselves on the back foot as a result.
“I would say maybe not quite as smart and good in the last couple of days,” Rosberg continued.
“It was not ideal and has maybe also pushed Max to have that outburst [in the qualifying press conference] in the media. So Christian not ideal, Max not ideal and it puts you on the back foot.
“Then you don’t qualify very well, Max’s car did have more pace than that, so it all comes together and I would definitely say advantage Hamilton and Mercedes at the moment in a big way.”
Rosberg also feels Verstappen is finding out what it is really like now to be actually considered a title favourite rather than just a World Champion in the making.
He added: “I also wouldn’t under-estimate how difficult it is for Max for the first time in his life to be favourite for the World Championship.
“The pressure just exponentially goes up and it’s a difficult thing to manage. We must also remember he’s still very young, even though he’s done seven years in F1, so we could be seeing some moments where it’s just getting to him a little bit.”