Christian Horner questions Toto Wolff’s ‘headphone-smashing’ style at Mercedes

Mark Scott
Toto Wolff smiles towards the camera with his headphones on.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff dons his headphones in the garage.

Christian Horner does not believe that Toto Wolff’s “headphone smashing” style at Mercedes is the best way to manage a Formula 1 team.

Horner v Wolff is one of the most fiercest rivalries in the modern era of F1, even if most of it currently takes place away from the track rather than through their respective Red Bull and Mercedes cars on it.

Both Horner and Wolff will appear in a brand-new Sky Sports documentary called ‘Secrets of Success’, released on June 28 at 7pm BST, the show giving both the platform to continue their war of words.

Toto Wolff’s headphone smashing shows weakness

Watch any Formula 1 race and it feels like there is a camera permanently fixed on Wolff watching the action unfold from the Mercedes garage. Why? Because he has the capacity to explode at any given moment, which usually means his poor headphones face the brunt of his frustration.

Meanwhile, in contrast, all appears calm and serene on the Red Bull pit wall where Horner positions himself and that is a deliberate ploy from him – being visibly angry gives the game away.

“Any sport is a mind game but when you see a camp part losing it and smashing a set of headphones up you think ‘OK, you’re feeling the pressure’,” Horner said.

“And if he is feeling the pressure, then everybody else around him is feeling the pressure, because pressure permeates from the top.

“I would never smash a set of headphones up.

“Internally I would have smashed mentally those headphones just as hard as him but I just wouldn’t have done it physically. I just think everybody is different.” recommended reading

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Toto Wolff: “I’m just trying to be authentic”

In the same show, Wolff dismissed Horner comments but did express regret about being so visibly frustrated and his headphones being flung around as a result.

However, Wolff is just being himself and not trying to be something he isn’t.

“I don’t think too much about what he thinks,” was Wolff’s opening reply.

“But I’m just trying to be authentic. I’m a very emotional guy and wear my heart on my sleeve, taking it badly if somebody tries to harm the team.

“…Sometimes the headphones break and when I see that I’m not proud. My emotions have put me into trouble but it’s just who I am.”

What do Christian Horner and Toto Wolff think about each other now?

Both team bosses were also asked what they currently think of each other and, while there did appear to be some underlying respect between the duo, it is still clear there is needle and tension at the surface.

“Toto..I have a huge amount of respect for everything that he has done and achieved,” Horner said.

“But we’re competitors.

“I’ve never been a believer that you can be the best mate with your competitor. I think it’s dishonest.

“I want everybody in my team to see that whoever we’re racing against is the competition, that’s who we’re there to compete with and as a team that we’re united.”

Wolff said of Horner: “He’s a good team manager.

“But it’s very different personality and very different values to what we have here in the organisation. But he’s still successful.”

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