Christian Horner fires ‘Mercedes behind their customers’ jab at Toto Wolff amidst Max speculation

Michelle Foster
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner

Christian Horner says Toto Wolff should focus on “other elements” and not Max Verstappen, after all, Mercedes are the “third team behind their customers at the moment”.

At the end of a Grand Prix in which Mercedes scored just 10 points while Red Bull put both drivers on the podium, including the win for Verstappen, Wolff stated that only “simple minds” would consider only the car’s performance when deciding a driver’s future.

Christian Horner: I don’t think Toto’s problems are his drivers…

Adamant there are “other factors” in play, he went on to talk up Mercedes’ “ambitious” 2026 targets but admitted that if he “was Max”, he’d stay at Red Bull for the 2025 season.

“But,” he added, “I’m not Max. It’s the quickest car but there are still other factors.”

It is fair to say Horner is over hearing how Wolff is trying to publicly court his driver given Verstappen is contracted to Red Bull until 2028.

Told of Wolff’s latest comments after the Chinese Grand Prix, the Red Bull team boss replied: “I’ve got to think carefully about what I say here.

“Have you spoken to Max about this? Because if you speak to Max – and certainly it’s not about pieces of paper at the end of the day, we know that he has a contract to the end of 2028 – it’s about how he feels in the team and the relationship he has in the team and the way he’s performing.

“I don’t think Toto’s problems are his drivers; I think he’s probably got other elements that he needs to be focusing on rather than focusing on drivers that are unavailable.”

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‘Mercedes are the third team behind their customers’

But as the post-race interview went on, Horner got a bit fiery with his answers.

Asked if he would like Verstappen himself to shut down the speculation, Horner replied: “I don’t know how many more times he needs to say this, he’s said it numerous times.

“I’m not going to get drawn into this, I think sometimes it’s just designed to create noise.”

And then he fired in, “We’ve moved today ahead of the amount of races that Mercedes have won in the modern era.

“The team is in form, why on earth would you want to leave this team?

“Mercedes are the third team behind their customers at the moment so I would think his [Wolff’s] time would be better spent perhaps focusing on the team rather than the driver market.”

Not letting it go as the questions moved to 2026, Horner added: “Have you heard George Russell is out of contract at the end of ’25?

“You know, maybe he might not be so keen to stay in ’26. The market moves around.”

However, told that at no point had Verstappen ‘unequivocally’ said that ‘100 percent I am staying’, Horner chimed in: “In what conference of the many that he’s done has he said I am unequivocally committed to my contract and the team.”

The Briton wrapped it up: “I can assure you that there is no ambiguity as to where Max Verstappen will be next year.”

Mercedes, it should be noted, are not third behind their customers, they’re second in the middle of a McLaren/Aston Martin sandwich.

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