Horner slams Wolff over Verstappen comments: Total lack of understanding

There's no love lost between F1 rivals Christian Horner and Toto Wolff.


Christian Horner has hit back at Toto Wolff, accusing his rival of being clueless on how an F1 car is designed, after the Mercedes boss questioned whether Max Verstappen‘s dominance is built on developing the Red Bull away from his teammates.

Wolff described Sergio Perez‘s gap to Verstappen as ‘odd’, after the Dutchman has also eclipsed Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly as teammates at Red Bull whereas they’ve both proven competitive elsewhere.

There’s no love lost between Horner and Wolff, and Verstappen had already hammered the Mercedes boss earlier in the 2023 Italian GP weekend.

“I completely agree with Max,” Horner told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com. “Because it shows a total lack of understanding of how a race car and team develop, if Toto thinks we’re developing a car around a single, a single driver.

“You develop a car to be as quick as you can and sometimes quick cars are difficult cars and that’s what’s historically been the case.

“I think that drivers adapt, you see in wet conditions, mixed conditions, varied conditions, the elite adapt quickly and I think that’s one of his key skill sets is his ability to adapt to the feeling and the grip levels that the car gives him.

“But there’s certainly no direction tailoring something to suit one specific driver, we’re just trying to design and build the fastest car that we can with our tools, our simulation, our wind tunnel, you know, provide us with that direction.”

Red Bull-Mercedes war of words

Toto Wolff speaking to the media during the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix weekend
Toto Wolff during the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix | Mercedes F1 Team

Wolff was speaking after the 2023 Dutch GP, where Lewis Hamilton admitted he thought Mercedes could’ve challenged Red Bull had they got their strategy right.

However, Mercedes don’t seem too confident of repeating that form at Monza, as Verstappen aims for a record tenth consecutive grand prix victory.

That streak started in Miami where Verstappen chased down polesitter Perez from ninth on the grid at a race where the winner was set to take the championship lead.

“I mean, Checo is not an idiot,” Wolff said. “We have seen in all these years, Checo is a grand prix winner, a multiple grand prix winner – and he was at Racing Point so I cannot comprehend.

“I mean, we’ve seen Max has destroyed every single team-mate that was with him, whether it’s his ability to create a car around himself that is just very tricky to control – but fast if you can – and that makes those gaps. I haven’t heard any obvious explanations. But… odd.”

However, the Dutchman hit back at Monza, describing Wolff‘s comments as ‘bulls**t’. “It’s not like that,” Verstappen said. “I just drive the car the fastest way possible. I’m not there to tell the guys ‘give me more because that’s how I like it’.

“I just say to design me the fastest car and I’ll drive around that because every single year, every car drives a little bit differently.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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