Red Bull boss Christian Horner reckons it’s only a matter of time until he and Toto Wolff’s rivalry can kick off again.
Aside from the F1 drivers on the track, the off-track rivalry between Red Bull team boss Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff is almost just as entertaining and vitriolic, with the two at each other’s throats for the entirety of 2021 as their drivers fought over the title.
The sparring match has cooled in the two seasons since, with only minor spats here and there as Mercedes have fallen off the boil while Red Bull have romped their way to two consecutive Constructors’ Championships in 2022 and ’23.
Christian Horner: Toto Wolff will have plenty to say!
Appearing on the ESPN podcast Unlapped, Christian Horner was asked about the current state of his relationship with Wolff, with Red Bull closing in on sealing both titles this year with Max Verstappen capable of wrapping up a third consecutive Championship in Qatar.
“I haven’t seen much of him, recently,” Horner laughed.
“So, of course, there’s competition and needle. But there’s also a respect, and that’s important.”
But, predicting further convergence of teams like Mercedes coming back at them in 2024 as the ground-effect regulations continue to mature, Horner said it’s only a matter of time until Mercedes climb back to fight for titles.
“They’re a great team,” he said.
“They’re a big team, they’ve achieved record-breaking [form] in so many areas. We don’t underestimate them, they’ll be back at some point for sure. I’m sure then Toto will have plenty to say!”
Christian Horner: I sleep much better than in 2021
Reflecting on how his life, and that of Red Bull’s, has changed dramatically since returning to the top of F1 in 2021, Horner said he has to pinch himself about the position his team find themselves in less than two years later.
“We’re only about 19 months on from 2021!” he said.
“It’s amazing how things change because in ’21, we were the challenger, we were going up against the Goliath Mercedes and we were the David.
“They steamrollered the previous seven years in the sport and so, we were the challenger, we had nothing to lose, we’re throwing everything at it and we were on the ascendancy and we pulled it off.
“In 2022, ’23, suddenly we produced a great car, and we started winning – serial winning – and then, at that point, you become a target and people are trying to take your staff or your sponsors or trying to cause issues elsewhere with whatever politics they can play.
“Yeah, it’s a lonely place when you’re at the top. But I think that the way that the team has responded has just been fantastic. The results that we achieved in ’22 were insane. The fact that we might even be able to match that or beat that in ’23 is beyond crazy.”
With 2021 an egregious example of just how bitter a title fight between two rivals, both between drivers and teams, Horner said the campaign of fighting against Mercedes had been mentally exhausting and draining.
“I sleep better at the moment than I did in 2021. I’d rather have 250 points in the pocket than two!” he said, when asked if he prefers being the hunter or the hunted.
“It was the most intense, insane period because there was so much going on on track and off-track. I didn’t have a single grey hair before 2021! It aged me! It was the most intense, insanely intense year that you could ever imagine. It was like a heavyweight fight from the first race in Bahrain to that final round in Abu Dhabi.”