Toto Wolff ‘can’t wait’ to prove Horner wrong after latest Mercedes jibe

The two bosses have been trading barbs, but Wolff is determined to have the last laugh

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Toto Wolff at 2023 United States Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sebastian Kawka

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has fired back at Christian Horner for suggesting over 200 employees left Mercedes for Red Bull – and warned the Red Bull boss he “can’t wait” to prove him wrong in 2026.

The war of words between the two team bosses has continued to rage on after Wolff – along with McLaren CEO Zak Brown – confirmed they had received CVs from Red Bull employees wanting to join them.

Horner, who has taken several jabs at his rival Wolff over Mercedes‘ troubles, responded by claiming he needs to keep an eye on his own organisation, with senior figures such as Jerome D’Ambrosio, Loic Serra and Gioacchino Vino all leaving their posts recently.

When asked about Horner’s remark that “220 employees” could join Red Bull, Wolff told the press in Imola, including Total-Motorsport.com: “You’ve got to work on the maths, [it’s] 19 engineers.

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at 2024 F1 Testing | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at 2024 F1 Testing | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“Whatever those numbers are, I think there’s natural fluctuations between teams that come and go, which is completely normal. I think we have an engine department that is as good as it can be with a top leadership.

“There is not a millimetre in HPP [High Performance Powertrains] that I wish would be different in terms of organisational setup, in terms of the people that work there that I am lucky to interact with.

“It’s just a perfect organisation and you can see they’re just delivering and they have delivered for a long time.”

Wolff eager to bounce back

Ahead of the new set of engine regulations, which are due to implemented from 2026, Mercedes are working towards being better prepared after struggling to adjust to the changes from 2022.

Red Bull, however, have taken F1 by storm and won 21 of 22 races last season, smashing records for most wins and most points scored in a single season, while Mercedes struggled to finish second ahead of Ferrari.

It is a far distance from their golden days, when the German constructor won eight consecutive titles from 2014 to 2021. after dominating the hybrid era of Formula 1. And Wolff is targeting a return to the top in 18 months’ time – with the added motivation of silencing Horner and their critics.

“Since 2014, we have been pretty much the benchmark, or with maybe another engine, the benchmark. So that hasn’t changed,” Wolff added. “I really can’t wait for 2026 to come and see the different levels of performance of the power units.”

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