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Formula 1

Wolff mocks Horner: He's a pantomime actor

Mercedes' Toto Wolff has said that Christian Horner behaves like "a little actor in a pantomime" and that the Red Bull boss isn't able to put pressure on him.

Horner Wolff GB
To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

Mercedes' Toto Wolff has said that Christian Horner is very good at playing up the drama of a Formula 1 title fight, although mocked the Red Bull boss as being a "little actor" when there's a camera on him.

The two team bosses' off-track warring has been almost as intense as that of their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen on-track, with both taking sniping shots at each other during this season already.

Earlier this year, at the height of the 'flexi-wing' saga, Horner said that he believed Wolff loved being on camera, with Wolff's response being to call Horner a "windbag".

With the pressure of the title fight only intensifying since then, Horner has admitted to enjoying making Wolff squirm with discomfort as the championship battle continues, but Wolff has denied that he's feeling any such pressure from his Red Bull counterpart.

"What Christian says about me feeling pressure – no, not at all," Wolff told the UK's Daily Mail.

"I feel he is one of the protagonists in a pantomime, part of the Formula 1 cast, and for me as a stakeholder, as a team owner, it's great that he creates these kinds of stories.

"But it's irrelevant. People have a microphone in front of them or a camera on them and they start to behave like little actors, like Hollywood.

"It's very good they fill the blanks and make it pantomime. That's good for the sport and good for Netflix because they want to portray the people, not just the stopwatch.

"People have realised they are being quoted if they say controversial things. It gives them media time, it gets their picture in the newspapers."

Wolff acknowledges the entertainment aspect of the sport, saying that Horner is playing up the showmanship side of Formula 1.

"In many ways we are going back to our roots because what Bernie Ecclestone created back in the day was racing and soap," he said.

"When there was not enough racing he made soap, he was always good for a headline. So we're back there. But I don't get drawn into it. I find it amusing, but it doesn't touch me.

"Look, I've had so many hard years in my life that this – fighting for a Formula 1 championship – is not on the scale. The mental stress of this doesn't even move the needle for me."

Wolff pointed at the Monza clash between Hamilton and Verstappen as a prime example of Red Bull's desire to create headlines.

With Hamilton admitting to some neck pain after their collision, as well as stating he would be visiting a specialist, he flew to the Met Gala in New York the day after the race.

This drew the ire of Red Bull, which hinted that Hamilton had been overplaying the nature of any injuries he may have picked up. But Wolff refuted this, saying it was wholly unnecessary to make those comments.

"Lewis never played the dying swan, nor did we ever say he was heavily injured," Wolff commented.

"And that can happen when a 750kg race car ends up on your head, even for a short while. He had a stiff neck, or a stiff body. But that's why they are well paid.

"One pantomime player at Red Bull felt he needed to comment and said Lewis was well enough to go to the Met Gala. But we didn't say he was gravely injured. It was just another headline created."

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