Formula 1 team bosses downplay feud

Some tense exchanges: Cyril Abiteboul (left) and Christian Horner (right).
Some tense exchanges: Cyril Abiteboul (left) and Christian Horner (right).

They say the camera never lies.

But Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul says a documentary portraying a simmering feud with Formula 1 rival Christian Horner is misleading, calling it "a bit of fiction".

It seemed the stage was set for an awkward press conference after Abiteboul and Horner joined fellow team bosses Mattia Binotto of Ferrari and Mercedes' Toto Wolff ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

Abiteboul and Red Bull team principal Horner didn't appear to be bosom buddies after they were seen clashing in the Netflix documentary Formula 1: Drive to Survive released last week.

Tense exchanges were shown following Red Bull's decision to stop using Renault engines in 2019.

And Renault's poaching of Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull also didn't go down well with Horner.

However the pair kept it civil in front of the media albeit while sitting on opposite sides of the table.

Abiteboul played down the rivalry, saying the documentary was entertainment.

"Did I like everything that I saw in it? No," he said.

"I think it's important to have some form of disclaimer that it's a bit of fiction also.

"It's important given what's at stake with brand reputation we don't confuse what is information and entertainment."

Horner joked Abiteboul may take it further and get physical with Wolff in the next instalment of the documentary.

"I'm really looking forward to season two. I think there might be a fight," Horner laughed.

"I think it was an interesting project and it shows a glimpse behind the scenes of Formula 1."

The documentary shows tense interactions between the pair including when they meet after Horner announced Red Bull would no longer use Renault engines, switching to Honda.

Horner said in the documentary of Renault: "With that engine supply we were paying to fly first class but ended up with an economy ticket."

The pair were at it again when cameras captured them meeting after Ricciardo's decision to leave for Renault in 2019.

Abiteboul can be heard telling Horner: "You need a driver and an engine."

Horner responded: "Have you got any money to spend on your engine now that you've spent it all on your driver?"

Ferrari's Binotto claimed he had't seen the documentary but believed it explained the press conference seating plan.

"Not seen it yet; will do but at least I understand why these two guys are on the extremities of the table," he smiled.

Australian Associated Press