‘It’s very easy to pull his chain’: Christian Horner revels in Toto Wolff rivalry

·2-min read
The team bosses have exchanged brutal words in the past (Getty Images)
The team bosses have exchanged brutal words in the past (Getty Images)

Christian Horner has opened up on his rivalry with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, saying: “It’s very easy to pull his chain.”

Last season the two F1 team principals mirrored the fierce competition on the track between their leading protagonists, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, with constant barbs in the media.

The tension intensified through the season as the drivers came to blows, with Wolff famously slamming his headphones against a desk when Verstappen and Hamilton crashed into one another, until the final race in Abu Dhabi where Verstappen took advantage of controversial safety car procedures to win his maiden world title in a final lap shootout, denying Hamilton what would have been a record eighth crown.

This season Mercedes have struggled to keep pace with Red Bull and the only team who have been able to compete, Ferrari, have struggled with reliability issues, leaving Verstappen 80 points clear at the top of the championship during the summer break.

Asked about his rivalry with Wolff, Horner – who has now won a total of nine F1 titles – told Sky Sports: “It’s not personal in any way! Toto is Toto. He’s done a phenomenal job with Mercedes. He’s obviously come into the sport from a very different background to me, he’s very much from a financial background. And it’s very easy to pull his chain, you can see it.

“Sometimes it affects him, so of course when you’re competing, and last year was so intense and of course it was the first time he’d ever been in that situation, it’s always interesting to see how people react. And when they’re smashing headphones and so on, you can see that you got to them.”

Horner refused to be drawn on who is the better team principal, and said he is not bothered by what the outside world thinks of him.

“That’s not for me to judge... I’m focused on what I’m doing, you guys are judge and jury. I’m focused on what I’m doing and he’s focused on what he’s doing.

“If [criticism] bothers you, you shouldn’t do the job. My job is to do the best I can for the team and the people I represent. If I look at somebody like a Sir Alex Ferguson, I doubt he ever worried about what perception other managers or people thought about him in the sport.

“My priority and my prerogative is to do the best I can for the people I represent. Whether it’s with the promoter, the FIA, whether that’s getting the right shareholders or sponsors, with the media, it’s doing the best that we can with the tools that we have.”

Racing resumes at the end of the month with the Belgian Grand Prix on 28 August.