Christian Horner has been typically outspoken ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, suggesting that McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo made a bad decision by leaving Red Bull in 2018. The Red Bull Team Principal claimed last week that Ricciardo showcased “spectacularly bad timing” when he declined a “stratospheric offer” to remain with his team in 2018. Ricciardo has responded this week, telling the Herald Sun: “Obviously I would love to win a title with McLaren and then kind of say, ‘I told you so,’ or whatever. But I appreciate until that happens then there will probably be that narrative [of bad timing] with a lot of people.” Usually, Horner targets Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff with his jibes, as seen last season as their teams faced off for the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships.
This was seen in an interview with the Guardian in October, when Horner appeared to suggest that Wolff isn’t as influential to Mercedes’ success as some believe.
He said: “He [Wolff] came into the sport with Mercedes in 2013 and the structure was already in place.
“Ross Brawn had built that team. Lewis had already been signed. Toto’s done a tremendous job operating the team and maintaining their performance.
“But of course he’s never experienced anything other than winning. So it’s a different type of pressure now. It’s tough.”
Horner also reflected on his personal relationship with Wolff, admitting he enjoys winding up the Austrian.
He added: “The more Toto gets wound up, the more fun it becomes.
“I have no issue with Toto but we are very different people. I tend to be quite straight and quite direct, that’s the way I’ve always operated. He operates in a different way but I have a lot of respect for what he’s done.”
“It’s a competition, and compared to the championship years when we were competing with Ferrari and McLaren from 2010 to 2013 this has been very different.
“There is an awful lot more going on behind the scenes, constant campaigning of the FIA with all aspects of our car.”
Mercedes have become accustomed to success under Wolff, having won every Constructors’ title since 2014.
But this season the Mercedes car looks to be off the pace as Ferrari dominate, and Wolff has warned there could be yet more misery for the Silver Arrows.
He said there is “no magic fix” for the team.
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“So, there are various challenges ahead of us, but that’s something we relish and is when a team really shows its true spirit.
“Lewis and George are making an important contribution to the overall effort, providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward.
“Now we head back to Melbourne for the first time since 2020 and will be racing in Australia for the first time in three years – that’s too long for a city and country that are so passionate about F1.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the fans and the new track layout which promises more overtaking opportunities and faster lap times.”