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Christian Horner

Horner slaps down Wolff’s Verstappen comments: Stop ‘focusing on drivers that are unavailable’

Christian Horner has snapped back at Toto Wolff after the Austrian's latest comments on Max Verstappen, with the Mercedes team principal seemingly putting on a charm offensive to win the Dutch driver over.

Horner China
To news overview © XPBimages

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has taken a shot at Toto Wolff after his comments on Max Verstappen after the Chinese Grand Prix.

Wolff had said he feels there are multiple factors to which team a driver decides to race for, having highlighted the three-time drivers' champion as at the top of his wish list in recent weeks.

Red Bull and Verstappen are enjoying a crushing run of dominance in the contemporary ground-effect era, with the combination having won 38 out of 49 grand prix in that time, following a dominant victory in the China - his fourth in the first five races of 2024.

Verstappen has a contract until 2028 at Red Bull, but given the power struggle and recent events within the team, there has been speculation he could leave - with Wolff looking to a seat in 2025 following Lewis Hamilton's departure.

"I'm going to think carefully about what I say here," Horner said to media including RacingNews365 when he was told of Wolff's latest remarks.

"Have you spoken to Max about this? Because if you speak to Max – and it’s not about pieces of paper at the end of the day, we know that he has a contract to the end of 2028 – it’s about how he feels in the team and the relationship he has in the team and the way he’s performing.

"I don’t think Toto’s problems are his drivers; I think he’s probably got other elements that he needs to be focusing on rather than focusing on drivers that are unavailable."

'I don't know how many more times he needs to say it'

Red Bull has endured a difficult start to the year off-track, cutting against its form on it. Allegations made against Horner and rumours of growing instability within the team mired the opening weeks of the campaign - including suggestions that the Verstappen camp were looking at options elsewhere.

When asked if he would welcome his star driver shutting down the speculation over his future himself, Horner interjected: “I don’t know how many more times he needs to say it. He said it numerous times. I’m not going get drawn into it – I think sometimes it’s just designed to create noise."

Not missing the opportunity to take his own shot at Mercedes and his adversary Wolff, Horner zeroed in on the success Red Bull has enjoyed since the latest regulations were introduced, at the start of 2022.

“We moved today ahead of the number of races that Mercedes have won in the modern era, so the team [Red Bull] is in form, why on earth would you want to leave this team?" he contended.

“Mercedes are the third team behind their customers at the moment, so I would think his [Wolff’s] time would be better spent perhaps focusing on the team rather than the driver market.

"Have any of you heard George Russell is out of contract at the end of ’25? You know, maybe he might not be so keen to stay in ’26 – you know, the market moves around.

When RacingNews365 later brought the conversation back to Verstappen's future, casting a light on the fact Verstappen has yet to unequivocally state he will 100% be with Red Bull next season, a defiant Horner replied: "I can assure you that there is no ambiguity as to where Max Verstappen will be next year."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Counter-jab at Wolff

When the conversation was led towards the 2026 power unit rules, Horner interrupted the question to bring the focus back to Mercedes, and specifically, the status of George Russell - the team's only contracted driver past the end of 2024.

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