Red Bull chief Christian Horner pays £4k for ’20-person’ Mercedes factory tour

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has reignited the duel with Mercedes as he prepares to go under enemy lines at their F1 factory as the two rivals gear up for the new season.

In 2021, relations between the pair were tempestuous as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton became embroiled in an epic battle for the title, with the Dutchman eventually prevailing in controversial circumstances at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Silver Arrows however, did claim an eighth straight Constructors' title, but the dominance of both teams could be under threat in 2022 with brand new technical regulations being introduced into the sport.

Red Bull have already unveiled their newly adapted vehicles, with Mercedes set to do the same on February 18, five days before pre-season testing gets underway in Barcelona.

And now Horner, 48, has ensured he can get a behind the scenes look at how Toto Wolff and co are working after launching a successful £4,000 bid for a tour of the Mercedes facilities at the Autosport Awards Charity Auction on Sunday.

All proceeds from the bid went to the Grand Prix Trust, which provides help and advice to F1 personnel, and Horner did emphasise that his money was going to 'a great cause.'

However, he couldn't resist winding up his rivals, joking he was hopeful of taking 'about 20' of his Red Bull colleagues on the tour.

"Adrian [Newey, Chief Technical Officer], myself, Pierre Wache [Technical Director] and probably Paul Field, our Director of Production," he joked to RacingNews365.

"It'll be interesting to go and see how they're spending their budget cap."

But The Sun have since reported that Horner could be stopped from enjoying his prize because of some T&Cs – with Mercedes not yet deciding whether to accommodate his cheeky attempt at gaining an insight into their work before the new season.

It has been reported that the terms of the prize state "that employees of other Formula One teams are not eligible to take this tour".

Ironically, this isn't the first time that Horner has sought to visit the factory of an opposing team, having turned up at McLaren headquarters back in 2008.

Inevitably, Ron Dennis and Co didn't give away any secrets, and it is probably wildly optimistic of Horner to think Mercedes employees will be providing much in the way of expert insight either.

How all teams and drivers react to the overhaul of rules will make for intriguing viewing, but after much speculation, it now appears that Hamilton, 37, will be lining up on the grid for the opening race in Bahrain in March 20.

Hamilton had been remaining silent on his future after reportedly waiting on an FIA outcome into the events of the Yas Marina finale before clarifying what next. However, he took to social media last week to declare he was 'back.'

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