Written by By Nichole Murcer, CNN Rome
Despite sharing a massive share of drivers and supporting one another in their F1 commitments, there’s palpable tension between Mercedes and Red Bull Racing , which could make for an interesting season.
For instance, when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen appeared to throw shade at teammate Daniel Ricciardo after Mercedes dominated the early part of 2018, Ricciardo didn’t hold back in his response.
“It’s not a personal attack, I think a lot of us really feel like we’re undervalued,” Ricciardo said. “We haven’t won a championship and we don’t really look that far ahead. We don’t feel like we’ve made the most of our opportunities. So when we feel like we are undervalued, it comes off as a little bit of a dig.”
That said, Ricciardo is a proven winner with nine wins in 27 seasons, while Verstappen won just one race this season, to go with 23 other podium finishes, before teammate Ricciardo took the winner’s yellow and the annual team title.
And Ricciardo isn’t the only one sounding the horn over this race in favor of Mercedes. This time last year, the two teams were often seen as mortal enemies, competing for the most wins and the most engineers, though Mercedes also holds the longer streak of wins (69 to Red Bull’s 57) as well as total years of consecutive podiums (177 to Red Bull’s 124).
New powertrains due in 2020, but there will be little change for now. Credit: AEROSPACE PICTURES/XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s chief designer Jean Todt called Mercedes cars “too light” when commenting on new cars set to debut this season.
“When you compare teams, they’re both very solid and they’re also very competitive. Mercedes are always the favorites because they have an incredible engine,” Todt said, “but they are at the top because they are always well prepared and they can mix up the engines and the things in the other cars.”
This strange sibling relationship is not new, however. The two teams joined forces for the 1970 and ’80 seasons, even launching the now-legendary DRS system to aid overtaking, which has since become one of the FIA’s (the international motorsport committee) core rules.
How Mercedes’ racing cars lost a crucial component and made the difference between winning and losing this season. Credit: BOB AL-GREENE/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
At the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff walked across the street to meet up with Red Bull chief Christian Horner, in an attempt to patch things up. “I thought we were due for a chat. And we walked back across and had a drink, a cigarette,” Wolff told The Guardian. “We promised each other that we would try and see how we could make the team work better together.”
The two continued to collaborate, and in 2016 Red Bull announced that it was teaming up with Mercedes’ in-house engine supplier, Vodafone, to develop the new V6-compound powertrain that will debut in 2020.
Meanwhile, at McLaren, another Formula One team partnered with Vodafone — the company has historically also been linked to Mercedes in years past.
In 2018, both Mercedes and Red Bull were left without an engine partner as the FIA suspended its supply relationship with Renault, a deal it had struck in 2014. And while at the Winter Olympics, both teams sported a new look: the Red Bull Allstate Smoke Machine.
Euromillions winner Katie Price announces engagement to former Mr. Football, Alex Reid. Credit: Getty Images North America/SIPA USA/REX/Shutterstock
When designing their cars, Red Bull this season eschewed the muscular silhouette that had been adopted since 2014 in favor of a more aerodynamic line. This strategy paid off during the first few races of the season, but soon after Renault withdrew as their engine supplier, forcing Mercedes and Red Bull Racing to once again forge their own mutual-handshake relationship.