With the title fight getting tighter, Christian Horner has admitted to enjoying making Toto Wolff squirm, but the latter has denied feeling any such pressure.
Toto Wolff of Mercedes has said that Christian Horner is very good at playing up the drama of a Formula One title fight, but has mocked the Red Bull boss as a ‘little actor’ when the camera is on him. The off-track feud between the two team owners has been almost as heated as that between their drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, on the track, with both taking sniping shots at each other already this season. Earlier this year, at the height of the ‘flexi-wing’ controversy, Horner stated that he believed Wolff enjoyed being on camera, to which Wolff responded by calling Horner a ‘windbag.’
With the pressure of the title fight only increasing since then, Horner has admitted to enjoying making Wolff squirm, but Wolff has denied feeling any such pressure from his Red Bull counterpart.
“What Christian says about me feeling pressure, no, not at all,” Wolff told the UK’s Daily Mail. “I feel he is one of the protagonists in a pantomime, part of the Formula 1 cast, and for me as a stakeholder, as a team owner, it’s great that he creates these kinds of stories. But it’s irrelevant. People have a microphone in front of them or a camera on them and they start to behave like little actors, like Hollywood.”
“It’s very good they fill the blanks and make it pantomime. That’s good for the sport and good for Netflix because they want to portray the people, not just the stopwatch. People have realised they are being quoted if they say controversial things. It gives them media time, it gets their picture in the newspapers,” the Mercedes team principal added.
Wolff explained that he recognises the sport’s entertainment value, claiming that Horner is exaggerating the sport’s showmanship. “In many ways we are going back to our roots because what Bernie Ecclestone created back in the day was racing and soap. And when there was not enough racing he made soap, he was always good for a headline. So we’re back there. But I don’t get drawn into it. I find it amusing, but it doesn’t touch me,” he said.
“Look, I’ve had so many hard years in my life that this — fighting for a Formula 1 championship — is not on the scale. The mental stress of this doesn’t even move the needle for me,” he added.
Wolff cited Hamilton and Verstappen’s race at Monza as an example of Red Bull’s desire to make headlines. Hamilton flew to the Met Gala in New York the day after the race, despite admitting to some neck pain as a result of their collision and stating that he would be seeing a specialist. This enraged Red Bull, who suggested that Hamilton was exaggerating the severity of any injuries he may have sustained. Wolff, on the other hand, argued that making those remarks was completely unnecessary.
“Lewis never played the dying swan, nor did we ever say he was heavily injured,” he said. “And that can happen when a 750kg race car ends up on your head, even for a short while. He had a stiff neck, or a stiff body. But that’s why they are well paid. One pantomime player at Red Bull felt he needed to comment and said Lewis was well enough to go to the Met Gala. But we didn’t say he was gravely injured. It was just another headline created,” Wolff concluded.