The Mercedes and Red Bull team bosses have been involved in a well-documented spat and war of words throughout the 2021 season amid the intense F1 title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

Off-track accusations and rows between Wolff and Horner have dominated much of the headlines but the two men appeared to put their differences aside when they appeared together in a very cordial press conference on Friday ahead of the Abu Dhabi finale. 

“Good luck, may the best man and the best team win,” Wolff said as he offered his hand to Horner, who responded: “Exactly that.” 

Asked if the respect was lost between the pair due to the intense nature of the title fight, Horner replied: “Look, we’re competing for two of the biggest trophies in sport and of course the competition is intense. 

“I think as characters we are quite different but of course we share the same intensity, the same competitiveness. 

“I will defend my team, I will defend my drivers because that what you do. That’s who you represent, that’s who you look to protect. 

“Yes, there’s been competition on track, off-track, but it’s been pushing the boundaries and Toto has done the same from his side and yeah it has got heated. 

“I think that’s sport. It would be, for me, very artificial for me to sit here throughout the season and be all smiles with your competitor. For me, I can’t do that because that wouldn’t be being true or being honest. 

“Of course emotions boil over, we’re in a competitive sport. That’s Formula 1 and shows the intensity of the competition, the intensity between the teams, it’s given you guys [the media] something to write about but that’s being honest  more than anything. 

“For me, it would be totally fake to sit here and say how much we love each other and are going to go on holiday after this weekend.” 

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Mercedes holds a comfortable 28-point lead over Red Bull in the constructors’ battle, while Verstappen and Hamilton enter the final round level on points, setting up a winner-takes-all contest.

“I would agree with Christian,” added Wolff. “I think there is mutual respect for the job that the other team has done. They wouldn’t be where they are, competing for this championship all along, but it is just too intense. 

“I stand for the team and the interests for the team. And that can be fierce at times because it’s not only the drivers battling on track it’s a fight for an advantage in the regulations. 

“Obviously we have a certain bias that comes from a different perspective and different perceptions, and I can understand that rationally. But if things go against the team, or the two drivers, I can get quite emotional in the moment. 

“And Christian has his own way of dealing with it, as he said, we are very different personalities.

“It is just the fifth for this trophy and one of the most important prizes in sport, it’s a world championship, and that’s why you cannot expect a lot of schmoozing.” 

Wolff and Horner ended the press conference with a second handshake as they both left the room.