Horner relishing Wolff's frustration

30/09/2021
NEWS STORY

Though Toto Wolff had much to be happy about on Sunday, what with Lewis Hamilton retaking the championship lead on his way to scoring his 100th Grand Prix win, there was also much to be frustrated about.

While Valtteri Bottas failed spectacularly in his mission - if we are to assume his tactical engine change was meant to thwart Max Verstappen's race - a superb call by the Dutchman and his team when the rains came saw the Red Bull driver snatch a surprise second... on a day even the team's numerous simulations anticipated that the best he could hope for was fifth.

With Sochi, like Monza, widely regarded as a 'Mercedes circuit', the German team hadn't dominated as expected.

As Wolff did his best to hide his frustration, warning that an "aggressive" approach would be required in the championship battle from here on in, Christian Horner couldn't hide his glee.

"It is, of course, the first time that Mercedes, and the first time ever that Toto Wolff have been in the situation where they are being challenged," Horner told Channel 4.

"He's been in a situation where he came into the team, the drivers were already signed, the engine was already in place," he added.

"He's done a great job to keep the team winning," he admitted, "but he didn't really have any competition. This is the first time it's a true scrap, it's a true competition."

The barbs that Horner previously reserved for Renault are now carefully aimed at Wolff, though the Austrian rarely misses a chance to take a swipe at his rival.

"There's a respect between the teams, but we operate in different ways," said Horner. "I very much want to be on the front line, sitting on the pit wall with the strategists and the engineers, while Toto is in the garage next to the press guy.

"It's different functions, different roles, different outlooks," he added, "but the competition is fierce. That's the key thing about this championship. We're loving the competition and the more Toto gets wound up, the more fun it becomes.

"The next twelve weeks will determine whether we win a championship or not," he continued. "We have cup finals, basically, to ensure that we deliver at our very best.

"Mercedes are beatable," he insisted, "but it's only if we are at our best that we can succeed.

"We have already proved that we can do it, we've proved to ourselves we can do it, because we got ourselves into that position."

A far cry from the embarrassment of the Formula Unas.

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Published: 30/09/2021
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