Christian Horner's briefing to Red Bull team to 'wipe smile off Toto Wolff's face'

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner issued a rallying cry to his staff by asking them to stop Toto Wolff from smiling after Max Verstappen clinched pole position at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. The Dutchman will be looking to defend his newly-acquired Drivers’ Championship title from the likes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell of Mercedes when the upcoming Formula One season gets underway later this month.

Verstappen managed to end Hamilton’s four-year period of dominance last time around by clinching the end-of-season honours in dramatic fashion at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix back in December.

The result marked a shift in power at the top of the order as Red Bull secured their first individual triumph in eight years after a stunning campaign on all fronts.

It seems as though Horner was desperate for the Austrian team to beat Mercedes and Wolff from the outset after failing to lay a glove on the Silver Arrows over the course of F1’s hybrid era up to that point.

He was caught on camera by Netflix’s Drive to Survive crew urging his Red Bull colleagues to ensure that life was made hard for Mercedes before the first Grand Prix of the year in Bahrain.

“F*** it, we’ve just got to keep the smile off his [Wolff’s] face,” said Horner after Verstappen claimed pole position ahead of Hamilton at the Bahrain International Circuit a year ago.

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“That team has never had pressure, they’ve never really had a sustained challenge. We’ve just got to keep this pressure on.”

Horner’s call to action failed to have the desired effect in Bahrain as Hamilton managed to claim the spoils ahead of Verstappen thanks to a successful early undercut.

Verstappen came agonisingly close to regaining the lead during the closing stages of the race when he passed his Mercedes rival with only a few laps remaining.

However, the 24-year-old was quickly ordered to give the place back to Hamilton after he was judged to have left the track in order to force his way ahead.

DON’T MISS

He eventually went on to have the last laugh, though, after coming out on top over the course of the entire campaign to win his maiden Drivers’ Championship title.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Verstappen will be able to keep Hamilton at arm’s length once again this year when the action resumes at this month’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Sky Sports F1 pundit Anthony Davidson recently suggested that Hamilton will be more determined than ever to put things right by returning to the throne given the controversial nature of last year’s defeat in Abu Dhabi.

“He sure is fired up to win this thing once and for all and I think he’ll be hard to beat,” said Davidson.

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“He’s certainly coming into this season with a very bullish mentality. There will be nothing more than Lewis wants from this season than to destroy Max Verstappen.

“Let’s not beat around the bush, he feels absolutely robbed as to what happened last year in Abu Dhabi.

“He wants to come out with a dominant car and he doesn’t even want to see Max on track, I’m sure.

“He just wants to show him a clean pair of heels, disappear off into the distance and win his eighth world championship.”



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