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Mercedes and Red Bull bosses draw line under 2021 controversy


Mercedes reacted furiously to the result.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner have pledged to move on from the fierce rivalry that engulfed Formula 1®'s leading teams last season.

December's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw Red Bull's Max Verstappen win his first Drivers' Championship in contentious fashion after race director Michael Masi elected to unlap cars between Verstappen and leader Lewis Hamilton, permitting one lap of racing which saw the Dutchman snatch the title in the season's final seconds.

Mercedes reacted furiously to the result and rumours spread that a disillusioned Hamilton could even quit the sport, while Masi was removed from his role ahead of the 2022 season, with two new race directors appointed in his place.

Hamilton, however, will be going for an eighth world title this season and speaking at the first testing session in Barcelona, both Wolff and Horner were keen to draw a line under the events of 2021, and look ahead to the upcoming campaign.

"It [the rivalry] is to be expected," Wolff said in a news conference. "It got fierce at times and brutal, But there's a lot at stake.

"It's a Formula One world championship, there's the fighting on-track and the fighting off-track for advantages. That's okay.

"But we need to move on. There's been so much talk about Abu Dhabi, it came to a point that it was really damaging for all stakeholders of F1, and we've closed the chapter and moved on.

"Now it's about 2022, the game is on again, all points to zero, new opportunity and new risk."

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Horner echoed Wolff's sentiments.

"I think that maybe we share differences of opinion over Abu Dhabi, but that's all done and dusted, and all focus is very much now on 2022," Horner said.

"I think what you did see last year was a fantastic competition from the first race to the last race. I think that's been a key part of Formula 1's revival in popularity.

"It has been that competition, and so we hope that there's going to be an equally exciting year, although ideally a little less exciting at times!

"I think there could be some other competitors joining that battle as well. So with a clean sheet of paper, with these brand-new cars, it's a complete reset."

The new season will get underway in Bahrain on March 20.