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Fiery Horner reignites Wolff feud over Verstappen rumours: I don’t think Toto’s problems are his drivers

Toto Wolff hinted he has a strategy for Max Verstappen as rumours continue to suggest a move from Red Bull to Mercedes

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Christian Horner launched a stinging attack on Toto Wolff over the Mercedes team principal stoking rumours that Max Verstappen could leave Red Bull in 2025 and 2026, highlighting the Silver Arrows’ own shortcomings in a brutal press conference.

Red Bull converted a front-row lockout into a win and double-podium at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix as Mercedes limped to sixth and ninth after Lewis Hamilton was dumped out of Q1 in qualifying.

But afterwards Wolff focussed on Verstappen as he said there are other factors apart from car performance that could decide the Dutchman’s future and revealed he had a strategy to attempt to lure him to Mercedes.

Earlier in the season, uncertainty over Helmut Marko‘s future prompted Verstappen to say he’d leave Red Bull if the Austrian adviser – who first scouted him and signed him to the team – was forced out as the start of the campaign was overshadowed by the fallout of the investigation into alleged ‘inappropriate and controlling behaviour’ against a female worker.

“I’m going to think carefully what I say here. Does Toto just talk about Max to avoid talking about his car and his team performance?” Horner told select members of the press, including Total-Motorsport.com.

“I don’t think Toto‘s problems are his drivers. I think he’s probably got other elements that he needs to be focussing on rather than focussing on drivers that are unavailable.

“Today we’ve moved today ahead of the amount of races that Mercedes have won in the modern era. The team’s in form, why on earth would you want to leave this team?

Mercedes are the third team behind their customers at the moment, so I would think his time would be better spent, perhaps focusing on the team rather than the driver market.”

Horner: No ambiguity over Verstappen’s Red Bull future

F1 2024 Chinese GP winner Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
F1 2024 Chinese GP winner Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Ahead of the Chinese GP weekend, Verstappen avoiding committing himself to Red Bull in 2025 and instead stressed that he needs a quiet and calm environment in the team to continue.

However, Horner believes there’s no chance his star driver will jump ship as he took his 21st win out of the last 23 races – with one of those misses only due to a brake failure at the 2024 Australian GP.

“I can assure you that there is no ambiguity as to where that will be next year,” Horner added. “Have you spoken to Max about this?

“Because if you speak to Max and certainly, it’s not about pieces of paper, we know that he has a contract until the end of 2028. It’s about how he feels in the team and the relationship he has in the team and the way he’s performing.”

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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