Christian Horner makes ‘dishonest’ claim about befriending Toto Wolff

Toto Wolff and Christian Horner are fierce rivals, and they have often had a war of words in the media.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Toto Wolff, his counterpart at Mercedes, have shed light on their relationship and mindset as competitors in a new Sky Sports documentary titled “Secrets of Success.” 

The documentary, featuring interviews with 12 influential sports leaders, including Horner and Wolff, explores the secrets behind their remarkable achievements.

Both Horner and Wolff have established themselves as highly successful team bosses in the history of Formula 1, with their teams and drivers dominating the sport since 2010.

During the intense 2021 season, their rivalry reached a boiling point as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton battled for the world championship, culminating in a dramatic final lap in Abu Dhabi. 

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Throughout the season, Horner and Wolff engaged in verbal sparring, frequently exchanging jibes. 

When asked about their current relationship, Horner expressed respect for Wolff’s accomplishments but maintained that being “best mates” with a competitor is dishonest. 

“I’ve never been a believer that you can be the best mate with your competitor,” Horner said.

“I think it’s dishonest.” 

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He emphasised the importance of unity within his team and viewing their rivals as the competition.

Wolff, in response to the same question, acknowledged Horner as a good team manager but highlighted the differences in their personalities and values. 

Despite their divergent approaches, Wolff acknowledged Horner’s success.

“He’s a good team manager, but it’s very different personality and very different values to what we have here in the organisation,” Wolff admitted.

One defining moment of the 2021 title fight was when Wolff was captured smashing his headset after Hamilton and Verstappen collided in Saudi Arabia. 

Horner revealed that this incident signalled to him that Mercedes was succumbing to the pressure as the championship battle intensified.

He noted the psychological aspect of sports and the impact of pressure on individuals and teams. 

While he admitted to experiencing similar mental frustration, Horner stated that he would not physically exhibit it like Wolff did, emphasising that everyone handles pressure differently.

“When you see a camp part losing it and smashing a set of headphones up, you think ‘OK, you’re feeling the pressure,'” Horner suggested.

The documentary also delves into Wolff’s transformation of the Mercedes team since his arrival in 2013. 

Taking over a team that finished fifth in the Constructors’ Championship in 2012, Wolff immediately implemented changes, starting with attention to detail and cleanliness. 

He emphasised the significance of creating an immaculate environment as a reflection of the team’s commitment to excellence and perfectionism.

“It didn’t feel like a Formula 1 team,” Wolff explained. 

“The answer I got was that the Daily Mail or the old coffee cup doesn’t make the car faster, engineering does. 

|And I disagreed because it shows you whether you have attention to detail, whether you are perfectionists and you seek excellence.”

As the longest-serving team principal in Formula 1, Horner assumed his role at Red Bull in 2005 when the team purchased the former Jaguar team. 

At just 31 years old, he became the youngest-ever F1 team principal. 

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“People became battle-hardened… they just kept their heads down and probably thought ‘here’s another one, a 31-year-old kid turning up; he won’t last long,'” Horner admitted

Horner recognised the challenges he faced upon joining the team, including the lack of cohesion among departments and a culture of accepting mediocrity due to limited funding. 

He worked to break down these barriers, earn the trust of the team members, and change the prevailing mindset by instilling a strong work ethic and a refusal to settle for anything less than success.