Ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger believes that the tension between Toto Wolff and Helmut Marko is exactly what the series needs.
Mercedes has dominated Formula 1 for the past seven seasons, but Red Bull are determined to stop their rivals making it eight Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships in a row.
And while it is still very early days, right now they are on course for that goal with Max Verstappen leading the Drivers’ Championship heading into the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, four points ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Red Bull are also top the Constructors’ Championship.
The rivalry though has extended beyond the track this season. Mind games have been ever-present, the most recent squabble being over the flexibility of the wings on the Mercedes and Red Bull challengers.
Of course, it is certainly nothing new for Marko, the head of Red Bull’s driver programme, to speak his mind, while Mercedes’ part-owner and team principal Wolff is also never the sort to back down.
But while these two keep the rivalry going off the race track, Berger, a 10-time race winner in Formula 1, is very positive about the war of words, saying Formula 1 needs stories like these.
“It’s great,” he told Austria’s Auto Revue, as quoted by Grandpx.news.
“It’s exactly what Formula 1 needs. The sport has to have these stories, so it needs guys like them.
“Helmut Marko is unique with his hard edges but also with his will, his strength, his way of driving his team forward at his age and going to all the races.
As for Wolff, Berger added: “Niki [Lauda] certainly helped him a lot at the beginning, but in the meantime you have to say that Toto is simply an exceptional manager who has mastered every side of Formula 1.”
F1 TV are offering PlanetF1 readers 10% off their Access and Pro subscriptions! Click here and use the code PLANETF10 at checkout*
*offer expires midnight on Sunday, June 6
Red Bull without doubt have one of Formula 1’s standout talents in their ranks with Verstappen.
But, that is creating problems on the other side of the garage, since Red Bull are struggling to find another driver who can keep up with the Dutchman.
Sergio Perez is the latest to give it a try, and though his performances on race day have largely been solid, his Saturdays have not, meaning he has often been too far back to help Verstappen in the battle with Mercedes.
But Berger feels that the RB16B is not quite fast enough to make the strategies work against Mercedes yet.
“Max is so good, so tough – look how he makes every team-mate appear,” Berger explained.
“Red Bull has built a fast car, but at the moment it’s not really fast enough to make the strategies work perfectly. Mercedes still has a slight advantage.”