Christian Horner labels Toto Wolff a ‘pantomime dame’ as Red Bull boss hits back at Mercedes rival and slams him for suggesting the title race between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton could be decided by a ‘Senna-Prost’ crash
Christian Horner called his title rival Toto Wolff a ‘pantomime dame’ and criticised him for suggesting that Lewis Hamilton’s title duel with Max Verstappen may be determined by an unsporting crash.
The Red Bull boss was reacting to Wolff describing him as a ‘protagonist in a pantomime’ during a Sportsmail interview last week. Oh, no he didn’t! Oh, yes he did!
Ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix, Horner retorted: ‘Look, we all know that Toto has a lot to say but I was quite flattered to be called a protagonist, if you look at the definition of what it means.
Christian Horner (right) has described his Mercedes rival Toto Wolff as a ‘pantomime dame’
Red Bull boss Horner said he was enjoying the verbal sparring with his Mercedes counterpart
‘You need an antagonist to have a protagonist and one could say perhaps Toto fills that role pretty well.
‘If it were a pantomime, maybe the pantomime dame role might suit him. But it is all about what goes on on the track and it is a great competition between the teams.
‘It is no-holds barred, it is pit-walls against pit-walls, drivers against drivers, engine suppliers against engine suppliers, chassis against chassis. It is fantastic and we are loving it.
‘Occasionally you are going to get some flak thrown at you but you take it with a pinch of salt and sometimes even as a compliment.’
Max Verstappen crashed with Lewis Hamilton at the Italian Grand Prix in September
The Mercedes boss warned Verstappen and Hamilton could be involved in the kind of crash that decided the 1990 World Championship between Ayrton Senna (right) and Alain Prost
That is all good knockabout stuff but the more serious issue at hand is Wolff’s belief that Verstappen or Hamilton might do a ‘Senna-Prost’ by taking the other out in a last act of desperation.
Horner was not going to countenance such skulduggery, saying: ‘I was disappointed to read comments condoning this. We want a fair fight between now and the end of the season. Any driver would want to win it on track.
‘We are a racing team and aiming to win the constructor title and we also want to pull off the feat without a collision between our drivers.
‘Austin [a nail-biter won by Verstappen a fortnight ago to give him a 12-point lead] was a great race and we want a few more Austins before the end of the year. Nobody wants this decided in a gravel trap.’
Horner and Verstappen are desperate to end Hamilton and Mercedes’ dominance in F1
Verstappen extended his lead over Hamilton to 12 points with his win at Austin two weeks ago
Back to the asphalt, on which Hamilton’s attempt to turn theory on its head for the umpteenth time in his glittering career started well in first practice. The two Mercedes led the timing screens with Verstappen only third best.
But with five rounds remaining, the momentum is with Verstappen. He has, in truth, been marginally the driver of the year, so far.
A measure of his dominance is reflected in the fact he has led 504 laps. Hamilton has led 154. The rest of the field, with 486 laps led, cannot outstrip the Dutchman combined.
This all fed into the notion that Hamilton was arriving here at the gates of the circuit, situated on a smoggy highway that Cop26 could have been invented for, facing a potentially defining moment in his quest for a record-breaking eighth world title.
Hamilton has his work cut out as he seeks to win a record-breaking eighth world title
If he fails to win here or next week in Brazil, he will head into the final three races in the Middle East needing to pull off the unlikeliest win since Foinavon.
Hamilton thankfully survived unscathed from the stewards’ investigation into his driving during the early minutes of action on Friday.
He went straight on while braking at Turn 1, ran across the grass and rejoined the track at Turn 3. The offence was failing to stick to the left-hand side of the orange bollard before driving back on, contravening race director Michael Masi’s pre-race notes.
The stewards quickly decided not to hand out anything more than a reprimand. Quite right, too. Penalising him for a technical breach would have been an unnecessary intervention in this mighty title tussle.