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Toto Wolff

Wolff explains 'super tricky' task Horner faces with Red Bull drivers

With the 2023 F1 World Championship looking likely to be a two-horse battle between Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has outlined the difficulties of managing drivers in an intra-team fight.

Toto Wolff believes that Christian Horner will face a "super tricky" task if an intra-team battle plays out between Red Bull's drivers for the 2023 F1 World Championship.

The first five races of the season have been dominated by the Milton Keynes-based squad, with Max Verstappen claiming three wins while Sergio Perez has clinched two, as well as winning the debut Sprint event of the year in Azerbaijan.

Verstappen currently leads his teammate in the standings by 14 points, whilst their closest challenger, Fernando Alonso, has a 30-point deficit to second-placed Perez.

Should the title fight remain between the Red Bull pair throughout the season, Wolff – who has experience of managing intra-team rivalries during his time at Mercedes, most notably between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – has outlined the challenges that Horner might have to deal with.

Wolff on managing intra-team championship battle

"I can tell you from my past, it's a super tricky job for Christian and the team, because both drivers will obviously try to always feel that they're fairly and equally treated, whilst at the same time, trying to have an advantage," Wolff told media, including RacingNews365.com.

"I think, in our team, it was important to maintain a lot of transparency and clarity, discuss things before we actually go racing on a Sunday. Put boundaries [in place].

"And, at the end, both drivers, even with Nico and Lewis, respected the team's opinion, whilst we acknowledge that they have a fight between the two of them."

Drivers are 'competitive animals'

Reflecting back on the 2016 battle between Hamilton and Rosberg in particular – a season in which the two collided on more than one occasion, while Rosberg eventually went on to win the championship by five points – Wolff admits that there are certain aspects he would now handle differently.

However, he acknowledges that managing the competitive nature of F1 drivers is always going to be a challenge.

"Going back in time, there's things I probably would have done differently in 2016, particularly," Wolff explained.

"But [it's about] getting the balance right between accepting these two guys are racing for a championship and it's within the same garage, and at the same time, they are part of a larger structure.

"I think that is not always easy, because they are very competitive animals."

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