Motor racing-Wolff hits back at 'windbag' Horner in bendy wing row

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By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) - Mercedes Formula One team boss Toto Wolff branded Red Bull rival Christian Horner a "bit of a windbag" on Saturday as a war of words over "bendy wings" showed no sign of abating at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Red Bull are leading Mercedes by a point in the constructors' standings after five races and this weekend's event in Baku has been overshadowed by an argument over aerodynamics.

Mercedes and others have put the spotlight on Red Bull's rear wing, with accusations that it bends the rules by flexing at speed to gain a performance advantage, while Horner has returned fire on the champions.

"If you are picking on one end of the car, you have to look at the other," he said on Friday. "You can’t look at one part in isolation and say 'Oh that set of rules only applies to that element on that car'.

"I think if I was Toto, with the front wing he's got on his car, I'd keep my mouth shut."

Asked about the comments, Wolff told Sky Sports television on Saturday:

"Christian is a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera. It's easy to be punchy when you are on top of the timesheet, but you should be a little bit more modest I think."

The Austrian also reminded viewers that Red Bull were penalised for a flexing front wing in 2014, "so I think he (Horner) has a bit of a track record there."

Red Bull's Max Verstappen leads Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton by four points in what has become a duel between them.

The Dutch driver has dismissed the wing complaints as rivals just trying to slow him down, but Hamilton and Verstappen later made light of the row after qualifying second and third respectively.

"We should get them in a (boxing) ring," said Hamilton.

"Yeah, but I think the weight division is a bit of a problem. In the height, the reach," countered the Red Bull driver.

"They're the same weight, just difference in height," said Hamilton.

Asked what it said about the team bosses' rivalry, Verstappen replied: "It's Formula One, there are a lot of stakes involved so everyone wants to win, everyone is competitive.

"I guess it's just a natural thing and it's good for people to read, right? Bit of fire behind it."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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