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Toto Wolff

Wolff makes Horner swipe and further stokes Verstappen flame

Toto Wolff had waded further into the situation at Red Bull between Christian Horner, Jos Verstappen and his son's commitment to the Milton Keynes team.

Verstappen sprintqualifying Austria
To news overview © XPBimages

Toto Wolff has hit back at Christian Horner for his quip about Jos Verstappen being available to join Mercedes.

The team principal of the eight time constructors' champions further fanned the flames after Horner joked that only Verstappen Sr. would be available to join the Brackley-based squad.

Those comments were the most recent from a one-day saga between the Briton and the ex-F1 driver that engulfed the paddock on Friday at the Red Bull Ring. 

On a weekend in which Max Verstappen committed his immediate future to Red Bull - which has become a persistent topic of discussion, despite the Dutchman being contracted to the team until 2028 - the turbulent relationship between the 26-year-old's father and his boss began a new chapter.

First, Jos Verstappen reignited tensions by asserting that Horner had moved to block his participating in the Red Bull Legend's Parade at the Austrian Grand Prix. 

The 50-year-old Briton denied he had a veto on such matters, but could not resist making a joke at Jos' expense after Wolff's questioning of Max's loyalty to Red Bull was brought up in the team principal's press conference. However, the Austrian was quick to ridicule Horner's comments.

"I didn't hear that at all," the 52-year-old told Sky Sports Germany when the Red Bull team principal's remarks about Jos Verstappen were mentioned to him.

"It's just silly. Christian [Horner] is babbling and Jos [Verstappen] wouldn't be bad at all [as an acquisition] either.

"The important thing is that we look at our performance. If we have a fast car, then fast drivers want to drive with us. We have to improve, because then we will also be a good destination for Max Verstappen. But at the moment we are not fast enough."

Wolff relationship with Verstappen remains strong

As part of the tensions between himself and Horner, Jos Verstappen refused to rule out his son joining Mercedes, despite Max's prior comments. This coincided with Wolff's aforementioned questioning of the triple-world champion's loyalty to Red Bull.

Verstappen Sr. and Wolff have long enjoyed a strong relationship after Mercedes came close to bringing Max into F1 almost a decade ago. When Red Bull were able to offer a Toro Rosso drive for 2015, the Verstappens took the opportunity, which Wolff has seemingly regretted ever since.

However, the Mercedes team principal remained on good terms with Jos Verstappen, and now there is discontent between Jos and Horner at Red Bull, Wolff has been able to leverage his relationship with the ex-Benetton driver to his advantage - which could culminate in Max joining the German marque.

"The contact was always there," he contended. "We live in the same place and have always got along well. You also get along well with a neighbour when he doesn't drive for your team."

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