Christian Horner’s not-so-subtle Toto Wolff dig in F1’s mind games battle

Sam Cooper
Toto Wolff and Christian Horner.

The 2021 season was the most competitive F1 year in decades.

Away from Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari news, Christian Horner has described the moment he knew he had got under the skin of Toto Wolff during their 2021 title fight.

The 2021 season, which was narrowly won by Max Verstappen while Mercedes took the Constructors’ title, was a thrilling encounter but one that left both parties feeling drained such was the competitiveness of it.

And that pressure was not exclusively on the drivers either with Wolff in particular showing the effects of the season.

Christian Horner reacts to Toto Wolff 2021 behaviour

The usually calm Wolff was spotted a number of times enraged within the Mercedes garage during that season, most notably slamming his headphones on the desk as well as angrily pointing and shouting at the TV cameras.

It was in those moments that Horner believes he knew he had gotten the better of his old rival.

“It doesn’t faze me, it’s a bit of sport isn’t it?” he said in the upcoming F1 Racing Confidential book on pressure. “If you have a competitor who is getting a bit wound up and throwing a few bombs, if you can disarm them in a public forum, well.

“When you see a competitor smashing up headphones or pointing at cameras, visibly losing it in front of a camera you think ‘Okay we are under your skin.’” recommends

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Horner went on to suggest that behaviour like that was enough to derail a team and raised the example of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was famous for the ‘mind games’ he played on rival coaches.

“If they’re losing it publicly at the point of they’re behaving like that within their team environment then people around them are going to be feeling that,” Horner continued.

“It permeates from the top so that makes people tense and tighten up.

“Alex Ferguson was the master within his field. I’m not saying I am an Alex Ferguson but the competition is fierce and when it gets to a competition like we had in 2021 there was as much off-track as it was on track.”

F1 Racing Confidential is a new book from Guardian journalist Giles Richards and features interviews from the likes of Wolff, Horner and Lando Norris on what it is like to work in F1. The book is set for release on February 29.

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