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Christian Horner takes swipe at Toto Wolff over Verstappen prediction

Mercedes are hoping to lure Max Verstappen to Mercedes for the 2025 Formula 1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has taken a swipe at his paddock rival Toto Wolff by claiming he ignores the Mercedes boss’ comments on Max Verstappen’s Formula 1 dominance.

Wolff has made no secret of his admiration for the three-time world champion and wants to bring the 26-year-old in to replace Lewis Hamilton next season. Verstappen has responded by refusing to rule out a future move, while also maintaining he is happy driving for Red Bull.

After his dominant win at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, Wolff suggested that no driver would be able to catch Verstappen, which was viewed by many as the first strike in building his charm offensive to lure the Dutchman to Mercedes.

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff before the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix | Pool via REUTERS/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff said Verstappen was unbeatable. | Pool via REUTERS/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

But Horner says he won’t get involved in any mind games, adding he “doesn’t listen much” to Wolff’s comments to add to the tension between the two – and claimed it was too early in the season to write off Mercedes‘ hopes.

“It’s very early to write off your year, there’s still 20 races to go,” Horner replied. “I’ve learned not to listen too much to what Toto says over the years.”

A torrid start for Mercedes

Verstappen clinched his 57th race win in Suzuka, taking home the maximum 26 points, responding in perfect fashion to his unexpected retirement in Australia. The Dutchman beat his team-mate Sergio Perez by 12.5 seconds, with the closest non-Red Bull – Carlos Sainz in third – over 20 seconds behind.

Unlike Red Bull, Mercedes were left to lick their wounds after another frustrating race in the Far East.

Wolff made the trip to oversee his team’s operation despite initially planning to sit out of the race weekend, and his presence did not bring any good luck as George Russell came home in seventh with Hamilton ninth.

Mercedes have accumulated only 34 points between Hamilton and Russell in their four races so far – less than half of Verstappen’s tally of 77 points – which may point to why Wolff is so desperate to sign him up for 2025.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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