Horner thinks Wolff is the key

Date published: January 12 2016

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes that Mercedes Head of Motorsport Toto Wolff has made it difficult for any negotiations to develop between the top teams on the Formula 1 circuit.

Horner is of the opinion that some progress was being made during the summer, after Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz and Niki Lauda had engaged in informal discussions.

However, Horner alleges that the subsequent involvement of Wolff in these discussions ruined any prospects the teams had of meeting each other halfway.

"He [Mateschitz] was involved in the negotiations at the forefront of this, and believed he had a deal," Horner told Motorsport.com.

"Dietrich has always worked on handshake qualities, and that is the way he has run his business and run his life," added Horner.

"I have been around long enough to not be totally surprised. It is a competitive business at the end of the day. Niki Lauda tried his hardest to make it happen and unfortunately Toto was particularly unkeen to see Mercedes power in the back of a Red Bull car," explained Horner.

The authorities at Red Bull have recently felt that Mercedes and Ferrari have pushed them into a corner, and that they have deliberately denied them the opportunity to be more competitive in the sport.

"Our performance at Spa in the middle sector seemed to spook a few people, around the time we were discussing with Mercedes," said Horner. 

"And our performance in Singapore seemed to totally spook Ferrari. So yes, in some ways you are a victim of your own success. But you have to keep fighting and solutions will present themselves," said the Red Bull principal.

At the centre of the storm is the struggle to land a new engine deal. Horner does not think the current rules have assisted them in this regard either.

"It is part of a bigger issue in Formula 1 – that firstly the power units that we were offered but were not available, some of them were in excess of 30 million Euros.

"Secondly they weren't available and thirdly you have this massive disparity between the best and the worst. And that doesn't make the racing any closer. So the FIA and the commercial rights holder need to grab a hold of it and come up with a more affordable, available, less-technical engine," said Horner, suggesting that the matter was far more complicated than meets the eye.

"I think there is an awful lot more to it than meets the eye. In the summer there were a lot of discussions. There were agreements between individuals that were later reneged upon, and an awful lot of politics put in to play.

"If you are a competitive team, then there is an obvious conflict within that team if you are a supplier [of engines] as well. The engines are the biggest performance differentiator in F1 at the moment: forget drivers and chassis to a degree. So you can understand why Mercedes and Ferrari wouldn't be particularly keen to give their biggest asset to a competitive rival team. They tried very hard at a team level to achieve that."

"But this is where I think perhaps the rules needs looking at. It cannot be right that a group of manufacturers can get together and say, 'we are happy to see Red Bull go to the wall.'"