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Christian Horner

Horner reveals how he knew he'd 'got to' Wolff in 2021

The rivalry between Christian Horner and Toto Wolff was a fascinating aside in 2021, with the Red Bull chief now admitting how he managed to annoy his counterpart.

Wolff Horner Abu Dhabi
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner feels that it was very easy to "pull Toto's chain" when discussing his rivalry with Toto Wolff.

The 2021 season featured one of the closest on-track battles for the championship in F1 history. as Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton headed to the finale in Abu Dhabi locked level on points after a contentious season.

The duo collided three times over the course of the year, with the first-lap incident at Silverstone igniting a war of words between Red Bull and Mercedes for the rest of the season, putting respective team bosses Horner and Wolff at the centre of it.

In the end, Verstappen won the title in controversial circumstances after Race Director Michael Masi failed to implement the correct Safety Car restart procedure at Yas Marina, setting up a one-lap shootout for the championship.

Reflecting on the circumstances of 2021, Horner has now revealed how he tried to annoy Wolff.

Horner: It's very easy to pull Wolff's chain

In the 2021 season, Mercedes experienced their first sustained title challenge since the inception of the turbo hybrids in '14.

Ferrari were unable to keep up the chase in 2017 or 2018, with Red Bull's RB16B a potent weapon in the hands of Verstappen.

As the title fight got more intense, so did the barb trading in the media between Horner and Wolff.

"Toto is Toto. He's done a phenomenal job with Mercedes. He's come into the sport from a very different background to me, he's very much from a financial background," Horner said while speaking to Sky Sports F1.

"It's very easy to pull his chain, and you can see it. Sometimes it affects him. So of course when you're competing, and last year was so intense and of course it was the first time he'd ever been in that situation, it's always interesting to see how people react.

"When they're smashing headphones and so on, you can see that you got to them."

Wolff smashed his headset over the desk in Saudi Arabia 2021 in response to Verstappen brake-testing Hamilton on Lap 36, having been ordered to let the Mercedes past by race control.

The Dutchman tried to do it in a way whereby he'd retain DRS down the main-straight, with Hamilton crashing into the left-rear of the Red Bull.

Both were able to continue, as Hamilton brought a car with a damaged front wing home first to set up the winner-takes-all-finale in Abu Dhabi.

Horner not affected by criticism

There were suggestions during the 2021 run-in that both Horner and Wolff were playing up to the audience, and in particular for the Netflix Drive to Survive series.

However, Horner says that the criticism does not affect him and that as the public head of Red Bull on Grand Prix weekends, he needs to do what is best for his team.

"If it bothers you, you shouldn't do the job," Horner explained.

"My job is to do the best I can for the team and the people I represent.

"If I look at somebody like [former Manchester United manager] Sir Alex Ferguson, I doubt he ever worried about what perception other managers or people thought about him in the sport.

"My priority and my prerogative is to do the best I can for the people I represent.

"Whether it's with the promoter, the FIA, whether that's getting the right shareholders or sponsors, with the media, it's doing the best that we can with the tools that we have."

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