Horner: Inbox from Wolff to FIA needs major clear-out

Date published: October 2 2021 - Michelle Foster

Toto Wolff imploring Christian Horner. Spain August 2021

Declaring that this year’s title battle is a “lot more political” than Red Bull’s last endeavours, Christian Horner says the “inbox from Toto to the FIA” needs a “major clear-out”.

While Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have battled on the track, the protagonists separated by two points with seven races remaining, Horner versus Wolff has been the off-track highlight.

The two team bosses have not held their punches, trading barbs in the media.

And it seems Horner, who recently admitted that he enjoys winding up Wolff, is not done.

Speaking to the PA news agency, the Brit spoke about the politics of this year’s championship, which has seen Mercedes approach the FIA to question Red Bull’s wing and then later the pit stops. Both resulted in TDs that Red Bull feel were designed to slow their progress.

“When we competed against McLaren for the championship and Lewis was driving for them, and when we were competing against Ferrari with Fernando Alonso and Stefano Domenicali, it was a very different atmosphere to this one,” Horner said.

“This has felt a lot more political with lots more going on behind the scenes. The inbox from Toto to the FIA, they are going to need a major clear-out at the end of the year.

“Toto has never been in a position where he has been challenged. He inherited a very competitive team from Ross Brawn and he has done a great job in maintaining that but this is the first time he has had this kind of pressure and people react to pressure in different ways.”

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton on the podium at Sochi.

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And then there was Wolff’s comments after Verstappen and Hamilton crashed at the Italian Grand Prix, the Mercedes motorsport boss calling that a “tactical foul”.

On a race weekend where Hamilton was expected to out-score his title rival, Verstappen was blamed for the duo’s mid-race collision.

“I was really disappointed to hear Toto call it a tactical foul,” Horner said.

“Max is a racing driver and he is going to go for a gap and both drivers knew how important it was to be ahead and neither wanted to concede.

“I spoke to Max after the race and he said ‘I could feel Lewis trying to reverse out while I was sitting in the car, so there was need for me to check on him.’

“It was not a driver in need of desperate medical attention. It wasn’t like when Max hit the wall at 150mph and he was knocked out. There was a lot made of that but it was a cover-up to excuse what happened at Silverstone.”

 

With Verstappen and Hamilton separated by two points, Horner once again called out the reigning World Champion for trying to play psychological games with the Red Bull driver.

Hamilton recently spoke of the pressure that he believed Verstappen is facing in his first title battle with the Dutchman quick to deny that.

Horner reckons it is actually Hamilton who is under more pressure.

“Lewis loves to try and play with people’s minds, and Max just doesn’t bite,” he said.

“When you point a finger in a direction, there are three pointing back at you, and the one that is really feeling the pressure is Lewis.

“He is fighting to be the most successful driver of all time, he is the defending champion.

“Max is 23, he has got many years ahead of him, and coming into this season he was the outsider. He is just enjoying it, the racing, the challenge, and he has the benefit of youth.

“Time never stands still and Lewis has achieved so much, a phenomenal champion, but there is always going to be the next generation.

“They are completely different characters. Max is the type of guy whose life is about racing, and if he is not racing on track, he is racing online. Lewis leads a very different life.”

 

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