until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Horner: Wolff under new pressure at ‘Brawn-built’ Mercedes

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes rival Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff is facing “a different type of pressure now” given how close Red Bull has run Wolff’s Mercedes team this season.

Mercedes has a 36-point cushion over Red Bull in the constructors’ championship, but its lead driver Lewis Hamilton is six points off Max Verstappen in the drivers’ title race.

It has been a title contest that has had plenty of needle, and not just because Hamilton and Verstappen have had two major collisions – with the Silverstone accident, in particular, prompting very strong rhetoric from Red Bull and an equally stern defence of Hamilton from Mercedes.

There have been other major points of contention, including pitstops and questions over extra engine power on both sides, while even before the Silverstone clash Wolff had gone as far as to refer to Horner as a “windbag” after Horner had advised him to “keep his mouth shut” over the early-season flexi-wing debate.

“I have no issue with Toto but we are very different people,” said Horner in an interview with British broadsheet The Guardian ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Practice Day Sochi, Russia

“I tend to be quite straight and quite direct, that’s the way I’ve always operated. He operates in a different way but I have a lot of respect for what he’s done.”

He added later: “He [Wolff] came into the sport with Mercedes in 2013 and the structure was already in place. Ross Brawn had built that team. Lewis had already been signed.

“Toto’s done a tremendous job operating the team and maintaining their performance. But of course, he’s never experienced anything other than winning. So it’s a different type of pressure now. It’s tough.”

Horner’s comments can be read as a subtle dig, and are at the very least curious given Wolff is widely regarded as having played a pivotal role in establishing the much-praised current culture of the Brackley-based Mercedes F1 outfit.

However, given Wolff arrived in January of 2013, having previously been at Williams, it is accurate to point out that both Hamilton’s signature and the preparations key to Mercedes’ early success in the hybrid era had already been long in place for that point.

But Wolff’s team did also face stern challenges from Ferrari in both 2017 and 2018, in which eventual victory was far from a given, even if ultimately Mercedes would prevail with multiple races to spare.

Horner, who has been team principal at Red Bull since the very beginning in 2005, oversaw its rise and eventual four-year period of dominance that preceded Mercedes’ V6 supremacy.

“Compared to the championship years when we were competing with Ferrari and McLaren from 2010 to 2013 this has been very different,” Horner said. “There is an awful lot more going on behind the scenes, constant campaigning of the FIA with all aspects of our car.

“You have to defend yourself if you come under attack as we have from the very beginning of the year – whether it was the concept of the aerodynamics with the FIA to pit stops to other aspects of the chassis, you name it.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks