Christian Horner drops Toto Wolff quip in response to bold Max Verstappen claim

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claims the F1 2024 title battle is over already thanks to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, but Red Bull’s Christian Horner quipped that he has learnt not to put much value in Wolff’s words.

Melbourne exposed perhaps the slightest sign of vulnerability at Red Bull, as Verstappen’s early retirement with a brake failure opened the door for Ferrari to record a 1-2 finish. From there all eyes were on the Japanese Grand Prix to find out whether Ferrari had unlocked the pace to legitimately take the fight to Red Bull.

Christian Horner not giving much thought to Toto Wolff claim

And the result was not a positive one for Ferrari or the chasing pack, as Red Bull secured a front-row lockout, that turning into their third 1-2 finish of the season as Verstappen claimed victory ahead of Sergio Perez at Suzuka.

That had Wolff waving the white flag, as the Mercedes boss declared Verstappen a four-time World Champion with 20 rounds still to go in F1 2024.

“No one is going to catch Max this year,” Wolff told the media in Japan. “His driving and the car, just spectacular. I can see how he manages the tyres.

“Basically this season now is best of the rest. That’s the fight, that’s all.

“Hopefully we can catch up to the McLarens and to the Ferraris, and fight for P2. This is what it is this year, and what it was last year and we were P2 last year.”

Horner though was reluctant to be drawn into commenting on what Wolff had to say, as while he cannot understand such an early surrender, he also joked that experience has told him not to listen to what Wolff says.

“It’s very early to write off your year, there’s still 20 races to go,” said Horner.

“But I’ve learned not to listen too much to what Toto said over the years.”

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Verstappen also got his chance to respond to what Wolff had to say, the dominant Dutchman pointing out that Wolff has been awfully nice in his recent comments about him.

Maybe the fact that he desperately wants to sign him for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement has something to do with that?

Speaking to the media after the Japanese Grand Prix, Verstappen said: “Lately, Toto has been really nice, saying a lot of nice things about me!

“No, I don’t know. It’s still a very long season.

“I don’t want to think about the rest of the season too much. I really want to approach it race by race.

“I know there will be tracks coming up that might not be so favourable for us, but then, of course, when we do get to tracks where we know that we can be quick, we have to really take advantage of it and score the maximum amount of points as a team and that’s what we’ll continue to try and do.

“And then, of course, I think we know that we get to tracks where maybe it’s a bit more difficult we have to try and maximise that as well, where maybe other teams can win as well.”

Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship by 13 points over Perez heading into the Chinese Grand Prix.

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