War of Words Heats up Between Formula 1 Team Bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner, With Each Seeing the Other as the Villain of the Season

Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner and Mercedes GP principal Toto Wolff have never been shy about their feelings for each other. The latest skirmish in the war of words between the two frenemies finds both declaring the other a “pantomime villain” in the drama-filled Formula 1 season.

Biggest Formula 1 title fight in years raises team tensions and brings out the drama

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (L) and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton (R) lead racers at the start of the Formula One United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas on October 24, 2021 | Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Red Bull Racing and Mercedes GP are currently engrossed in one of Formula 1’s greatest title battles. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have dominated the last few seasons, and a new challenge from the resurgent Red Bull, and Max Verstappen, have raised team and driver tensions. This has also increased the drama between the two teams’ principals.

Wolff and Horner rarely see eye-to-eye on anything, with their differing views on the future of Formula 1, current on-track battles, and how each runs their respective team getting most of the media’s attention.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Wolff fired the first shot at Horner, declaring him a protagonist in a pantomime and a Hollywood actor in the cast of Formula 1.

Never one to go silent when poked fun of in the media, Horner responded by calling Wolff the antagonist and a “pantomime dame” in the story of Formula 1, per ESPN.

Dueling interviews from Wolff and Horner tell the tale of how they feel about each other

Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff and Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talk in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia on March 12, 2020 | Photo by Dan Istitene via Getty Images

Speaking first, Wolf had this to say about Horner: “I feel he is one of the protagonists in a pantomime, part of the Formula One cast, and for me as a stakeholder, as a team owner, it’s great that he creates these kinds of stories. But it’s irrelevant. People have a microphone in front of them or a camera on them and they start to behave like little actors, like Hollywood.”

Responding to Wolff’s comments, Horner, who has admitted to enjoying winding up Wolff, said: “I was quite flattered actually, being called the protagonist, if you look at what the definition of that means. I think you also need an antagonist to have a protagonist and one could say perhaps Toto fills that role pretty well. If it were a pantomime, perhaps the pantomime dame role might suit him.”

Horner went on to add: “As far as we’re concerned, it’s all noise. It all depends on what you do on the track, and if you can do your talking on the track, then that has way more weight and value.”

Taking jabs at rivals in the media is all part of the game in Formula 1

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff talk in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 25, 2019 | Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The 2021 Formula 1 season has seen the sports’ two top teams locked in a tight battle for the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. With only a few points separating Mercedes GP and Red Bull Racing, the two have everything to play for, and taking jabs at each other in the media is part of the game.

From the outside, the drama between the two bosses may seem ridiculous, but there may be a bigger strategic play happening here. Poking fun of your rival in the media could distract them come race day. That would open the door for mistakes allowing the other to take advantage, and with the championship fight between Mercedes and Red Bull so close, any small advantage could mean the difference between winning and losing.

There’s no expectation that either Toto Wolff or Christian Horner will back down from their current feud, and with only four races left in the season, there’s every chance they will keep upping the tension. That will only benefit fans of Formula 1 drama and keep the off-track events as interesting as the action on the track.

Related: Continuing To Attack Lewis Hamilton Only Embarrasses Red Bull Racing