Christian Horner takes swipe at ‘typical Toto’ as accusations fly over F1 2026 rules

Jamie Woodhouse
Toto Wolff and Christian Horner looking glum in the pre-season press conference. Bahrain F1 February 2023

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner looking glum in the pre-season press conference. Bahrain February 2023

Red Bull boss Christian Horner said it is “typical” of Toto Wolff to focus on “self-gain” after the Mercedes boss claimed there is “zero chance” of an F1 2026 regulations re-write, while also dropping a Red Bull fear suggestion.

This current regulatory era in Formula 1 is very much being bossed by Red Bull, the team having picked up where they left off from their 2022 title double to take nine wins from nine to start the F1 2023 season.

Rival teams currently have no answer then to Red Bull’s efficiency with the ground effect aerodynamics, perhaps no surprise considering their design chief Adrian Newey’s university thesis was moulded around this subject.

Christian Horner sees selfish motives behind Toto Wolff F1 2026 stance

If not during this regulatory era, then come F1 2026 Red Bull will face a serious challenge to maintain their status as Formula 1’s dominant force, with the introduction of new regulations on the chassis side and new power units, designed to take Formula 1 a big step closer to the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

F1 2026 will mark the first season of Red Bull Powertrains, alongside Ford, as a Formula 1 power unit manufacturer, but Horner has revealed deep concerns about these new regulations which could create a “technical Frankenstein”.

The new power units will feature a greater reliance on electrical power, the perceived impacts of this increase a major worry for Horner, but Wolff has made it clear that to his mind, there is “zero chance” that the rules are revised again now, considering they have attracted the likes of Audi to the series as well as Ford, while Honda will return officially alongside Aston Martin. recommends

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Wolff also suggested that Horner had spoken out because what perhaps “frightens him more” is that Red Bull Powertrains is not coming along as well as hoped.

Such comments have not sat well with Horner, who pointed the finger back at Wolff when it comes to selfish motives.

“Unfortunately that’s typically Toto where he’s just focused on self-performance,” Horner is quoted by Sky Sports. “My interest is actually about the sport rather than self-gain.

“It’s still way too early to say who’s going to have a competitive or uncompetitive engine in 2026… for me the most important thing is from a sports point of view, that we all have a collective responsibility to work with the FIA and the commercial rights holder to ensure that the product is as good as it can be, otherwise we’ve all failed.”

In response to Wolff’s claim that these regulations attracted new names to Formula 1, Horner added: “The regulations are a hybrid of what was originally intended, and of course it’s only as you work through a set of regulations that you find out where their limitations are.

“I think the FIA is being very responsible in terms of doing its due diligence, and I think certain teams share very similar opinions to that of our own. I think they have a capable team, I think they’re aware of what the challenges are.”

Deeper look at the Christian Horner concerns

For Horner, much of his trepidation with these F1 2026 regulations revolves around the impact of this increased electrical power versus the output from the Internal Combustion Engine.

In addition, active aerodynamics are set to become a feature with the F1 2026 cars, and Horner is wary of DRS and the tow effect being reduced to a point where wheel-to-wheel racing action suffers.

“I think that perhaps where we need to pay urgent attention, before it’s too late, is to look at the ratio between combustion power and electrical power,” Horner claimed.

“[We need] to ensure that we’re not creating a technical Frankenstein, which will require the chassis to compensate to such a degree with moveable aero and reduce the drag to such a level that the racing will be affected – and that there will be no tow effect and no DRS because effectively you’re running like that at all points in time.

“Plus, with the characteristics of these engines, that the combustion engine just doesn’t become a generator to recharge a battery.

“We still have two-and-a-half years, and I think if there is a slight redress it would then create potentially a better platform for the chassis. Otherwise, the chassis regulations that are undefined yet and uncommitted, we’re going to be trying to cater for those compromises.

“You have got to look at the thing holistically from both the technical point of view, and most importantly what is F1.

“F1 needs to be wheel-to-wheel racing. We can’t afford to lose that challenge and have drivers downshifting on the straights to regenerate batteries.

“I know the FIA is taking it very seriously, and they’re looking at it very closely as the simulations become more advanced.”

Back in the here and now, Mercedes are set to bring the next stage of their F1 2023 upgrades to the upcoming British Grand Prix, a race that Mercedes’ seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton has won a record eight times.

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