F1’s flexi-wing squabbling was ramped up another notch before Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying as Toto Wolff hit back at Christian Horner.
The Mercedes and Red Bull team principals are embroiled in an increasingly tense World Championship fight which still has a potential 18 more races to run.
But while the on-track action is still in its relatively early stages of the campaign, the verbal jousting is already approaching boiling point with Wolff describing Horner as a “windbag who just wants to be on camera” during an interview with Sky F1.
The issue surrounds the rules regarding flexi-wings, with both teams taking issue with a part of their opponents’ car.
At the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton singled out the Red Bull rear wing, which he predicted would benefit the RB16B by around six tenths of a second per lap in Baku.
In retaliation, Horner and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko have pointed to the front wing on the Mercedes W12 which they suspect may be in breach of the rules.
New FIA tests on wings will be brought in from June 15, but the prospect of protests being lodged in Baku has been raised.
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Wolff v Horner round 345:
After Christian told Toto to keep his mouth shut on Friday, Wolff replies:
"Christian is a bit of windbag that wants to be on camera…he should be a bit more modest I think."#F1
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) June 5, 2021
On Friday, as Wolff took a step back from communicating with the media as Mercedes struggled in free practice, Horner said: “I think if I was Toto, with the front wing he has got on his car I would keep my mouth shut.”
Now Wolff has responded, referring to Red Bull having a “track record” when it comes to transgressing the rules about flexing wings.
“Christian is a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera,” said the Austrian. “It’s about being punchy – it’s easy to be punchy when you’re on top of the timesheet, but he should be a little bit more modest I think.”
Asked whether a Mercedes protest was likely this weekend, Wolff replied: “I think the topic remains open. The last one having been taken out on a front-wing flex was Red Bull, I think in 2014, so he has a bit of a track record there. But you just have to get on with things.”
The incident to which Wolff was referring was when Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were excluded from qualifying at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix due to their visibly flexing front wings, both having to start that race from the pit-lane.