War of words an extension of F1’s title fight

Toto Wolff speaking to the media

Max Verstappen has suggested the war of words that has broken out between Christian Horner and Toto Wolff is natural.

Red Bull and Mercedes are locked in battle for the constructors’ championship, the former having taken the lead following the Monaco Grand Prix.

It’s the first time since the end of 2013 that the Milton Keynes operation has topped the standings, and the first time since mid-2018 that Mercedes has not.

With the two protagonists locked in battle on track, that has spilled over off track with Horner and Wolff exchanging salvos through the media.

That has included debate surrounding the flexible rear wing, with Mercedes arguing that used by Red Bull is illegal.

Countering that, Red Bull has in turn argued that Mercedes front wing flexes outside of what the regulations permit.

“I think if I was Toto with the front wing he’s got on his car, I’d keep my mouth shut,” Horner told Sky Sports in Baku.

“A lot of noise has been made about the rear wing, and a lot of revisions have had to be made.

“So if you’re picking on one end of the car, you have to look at the other.

“You can’t look at one part in isolation and say that set of rules only applies to that element on that car. You have to look at all areas.

“Sometimes, you have to be a little bit careful what you wish for.”

It was that suggestion which left Wolff to describe his English counterpart as a “windbag”.

“Christian is a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera,” Wolff said following qualifying in Azerbaijan.

“It’s easy to be punchy when you’re on the top of the timesheets but you should be a little bit more modest.”

For Verstappen, the skirmishes the two are now having are a normal extension of their on-track battle.

“We’ve got naturally the two top leaders have of teams that both contributed hugely to the success of both teams, great leaders,” Verstappen reasoned.

“Of course they’re going to go head-to-head because we are head-to-head in this this type battle.

“We generally just like to do our talking on the track, so we’re just keeping our heads down.”

Verstappen crashed out while leading the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when a tyre failed, while Lewis Hamilton skated out after knocking a button on his steering wheel at the red flag restart.

It saw Mercedes fail to score a point while Sergio Perez claimed honours for Red Bull, helping it extend its constructors’ championship advantage to 27 points.

Formula 1 continues next weekend with the French Grand Prix, the first track session beginning at 19:30 AEST on Friday.

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