May 20, 2024

Wolff says ‘buddy’ photo with Horner was to show ‘respect’

F1 enthusiasts were somewhat taken aback when a photo surfaced on social media post the Bahrain Grand Prix, revealing Mercedes head Toto Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner seemingly in good spirits.

Given their history of heated and sometimes acerbic exchanges, witnessing them share smiles at the conclusion of a season dominated by Red Bull was unexpected. However, Wolff asserted that despite their camaraderie, they remained fierce rivals in the realm of racing. He emphasized the importance of acknowledging the achievements of their adversaries, stating, “Friends? The last handshake might have been in 2021 before the last race. But you have to recognize the performance of your competitor. I have respect for what the Red Bull team has achieved.”

The photograph was taken at Yas Marina, where Max Verstappen had just extended his record of victories in a single season to 19. Red Bull finished the campaign over 400 points ahead of Mercedes in P2. Wolff clarified the context of the photo, describing an impromptu encounter in the paddock with Horner and his wife Geri, who were part of a group that included Red Bull co-owner Mark Mateschitz. He explained, “That was on the way out of the paddock. There was a nice group around Mark Mateschitz, his mother, and a few people I know well. I joined them and had a funny chat with Geri, and that’s how the photo came about.”

Horner added a humorous detail about the encounter, mentioning that his wife had playfully smacked Wolff’s bum, surprising him. In a more serious tone, Horner acknowledged the long season and emphasized the need for on-track competition while maintaining mutual respect. He stated, “It’s been a long season and there has to be competition on track, but there still has to be respect. I respect everything he has done and achieved in the sport. We’re very different as people and leaders, but that doesn’t mean there’s no respect there. I would say we have a professional relationship.”


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