The bad blood between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner is part of the current fabric of Formula One. During the years of Mercedes domination, some would feel Toto was less than gracious at time in victory and last seasons titanic battle between Red Bull and Mercedes lead drivers strained the relationship to new highs.
Back in April 2022 Helmut Marko revealed the newly established Red Bull Power Trains had recruited 50 staff from the Brixton AMG Mercedes high performance unit.
“I think a loss of this size is not insignificant, it’s quite normal that it can create some difficulties. And just before that, Andy Cowell left,” commented Marko.
Red Bull hard lessons teach them to go it alone
Red Bull Racing are now going it alone on the power unit front. Having been failed by Renault with a sub par 2014 V6 Turbo hybrid debutant engine that was both unreliable and not powerful enough, the Milton Keynes team turned to Honda.
Honda had been enticed back into F1 by McLaren whose boss at the time, Ron Dennis, believed you could only win titles if you were the number one customer of an F1 power unit manufacturer.
For the second time in their history, Honda retired from the sport in 2020 and subsequently saw their technology win a world title the following year.
Honda lose 2 world titles
The previous occasion Honda technology won a title under a different badge was in 2009 when Ross Brawn bought the entire Honda team for just £1. Jenson Button in the all Honda chassis renamed Brawn then went out and won the drivers’ championship.
Toto Wolff was asked whether he feared a brain drain from Brixton again to the new F1 power train manufacturer Audi set to join the grid in 2026.
“It’s completely normal,” Wolff said to Motorsport.com
“We haven’t lost anyone to Audi yet, but there will be situations where some of the Mercedes or ex-Mercedes people will go to Audi, there’s no doubt about that.”
“This is an open market and there are these movements between teams.”
“We also have these movements from other power unit manufacturers, although we don’t issue a press release for them every time that happens.”
Wolff praises Audi pedigree
“They know how to perform, as they showed at Le Mans. And I have no doubt that they will be very, very competitive. They are now part of a team that is based in German-speaking Switzerland. That’s something that they know and understand, so I think it’s definitely going to be a challenge for them.
“But I’m convinced that they will be good in the game, so it’s good that they’re coming. That shows the strength and attractiveness of Formula 1 and what it can offer the best brands in the world.”
Marko no RBR press officer
To be fair to Christian Horner and Red Bull Racing, Helmut Marko is not their official PR spokesman. Marko regularly gives his opinion on all things F1 to Austrian Servus.TV.
These are hardly press releases.
Yet it seems Toto has a long memory particularly when he feels wronged.
The notorious Singapore sling 🍸
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 28, 2022