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Why Mr Wolf(f), what a big nose you have!

NEWS STORY
01/05/2021

Little Red Bull Racing Hood, Christian Horner takes a swipe at Mercedes boss Toto, telling Mr Wolff to keep his snout out of his team's business.

As if the title battles weren't enough, there is an increasing sense of hostility between Red Bull and Mercedes away from the track.

The fight for outright supremacy in the 2021 championships is likely to affect both teams moving forward, for at a time most of the other teams are pondering when to switch focus to 2022, a down to the wire battle for the 2021 titles will prove costly in every sense as Mercedes and Red Bull remain locked in a development war.

Then there is the point raised by Zak Brown this week, in which the McLaren boss questioned the increasing role of 'alliances' within the sport, which sees the likes of Mercedes enjoy supposed additional political clout through its relationships with the likes of Aston Martin and Williams.

Then there's Red Bull's move into power trains following Honda's decision to quit the sport (again), which has seen the head of engineering at Mercedes HPP, Ben Hodgkinson leave Mercedes for its Austrian rival, with Christian Horner suggesting that more will follow, making their way from Brixworth to Milton Keynes.

Asked at Friday's press conference if this is an "unsettling" time for Mercedes, what with Hodgkinson's departure and James Allison essentially stepping down, Toto Wolff turned the subject of the question away from his own team and onto the thinking behind Red Bull's move into powertrains.

"I think the right strategic steps have been, as far as I can see, set in motion from Red Bull," he said. "I think they are going dual track with their own power unit and maybe with a new OEM joining in, and that's certainly intelligent and the arrangement that has been found with Honda in the carrying over the IP is also clever.

"It's clear that they are going to hire English engineers," he added, "because it's in the United Kingdom and there is not a lot of companies that can probably provide those engineers. So absolutely understood what the strategy is."

Asked if losing further personnel - and potentially IP - to Red Bull concerns him, and will add to the friction of the title battles, Wolff replied: "I guess it was expected that this would happen and this is just a battleground such as the one on track. You need to acknowledge that and the last few weeks were certainly very much..."

"Busy!" suggested Christian Horner.

"Pulling on... how do you call that?" continued Wolff. "Pulling on both sides of the rope, which I enjoyed. It's part of the competition. You need to take it as a sportsman. Sportsmanship."

However, when Horner was subsequently asked about Wolff's claim of a "new OEM joining in", which led to suggestions of one of Volkswagen's brands, namely Porsche or Audi, being potential partners, the Red Bull boss was quick to respond.

"Toto always likes to think he knows what's going on in other people's business," the Briton told Sky Sports. "Perhaps he needs to think about his own."

Ouch, as they say

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 02/05/2021 12:02

"As noted by @emocomments, Horner avoided answering and changed the subject. My bet is that that's a "Yes" they are angling for another OeM. Although Red Bull has lots of dosh from selling sugary caffeine drinks, developing Power Units is something of a money-pit, so a Partner like VAG would fit the bill nicely.
Having said that I'd be surprised if Honda hadn't placed limits on RBR's ability to share Honda's original IP with competitors like VAG.

It will be interesting to see how that goes...."

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2. Posted by emcomments, 01/05/2021 12:23

"'Ouch, as they say'
I think Horner's response was a very Boris-like non-answer - a bit of a "oh look a squirrel""

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