Red Bull is chasing its first F1 title since 2013, and the driver’s championship is currently led by Max Verstappen, who sits 12 points clear of Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton at the top of the standings.
In the constructors’ race, Mercedes enjoys a 23-point advantage over Red Bull, but saw its lead shrink at the last round in the United States.
In the break before Mexico, Mercedes F1 chief Wolff conducted an interview with the Daily Mail in which he called Horner “one of the protagonists in a pantomime” when discussing his counterpart’s portrayal in the Drive to Survive Netflix series.
Horner and Wolff have exchanged a number of off-track comments this year amid their teams’ fight, adding to the drama surrounding the on-track battle.
Wolff called Horner “a bit of a windbag” back in June, while Red Bull was vocal in its criticism of Hamilton in the wake of his crash with Verstappen in the British Grand Prix one month later.
Asked for his reaction to Wolff’s latest comments, Horner said: “We all know Toto has a lot to say.
“I was quite flattered actually. Being called the protagonist, if you look up what the definition of that means, I think you also need an antagonist to have a protagonist.
“One could say that perhaps Toto fills that role pretty well, or if it were a pantomime, maybe the pantomime dame role might suit him.
Toto Wolff, Team Principal and CEO, Mercedes AMG, and Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing, in the team principals Press Conference
Photo by: FIA Pool
“But look, it’s all about what goes on on-track, and I think that it’s a great competition between the teams.
“It’s no holds barred, it’s pit wall going against pit wall, drivers against drivers, engine suppliers against engine suppliers, chassis against chassis, and it’s fantastic.
“We’re loving it, and occasionally, you’re going to get some flack thrown at you. But I take it with a pinch of salt, and sometimes, even as a compliment.”
The 2021 season marks Mercedes’ closest challenge yet since beginning its streak of championship victories in 2014, and is Red Bull’s first involvement in a title fight since 2013 when it won a fourth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship double.
Horner said the needle between himself and Wolff was “all noise” compared to the on-track battle between their teams, but admitted this title would be the sweetest yet for Red Bull.
“I have no issue with Toto, I think he’s done a great job there, in a team that he inherited,” Horner said.
“Of course there is respect. Mercedes are a phenomenal team. They’ve achieved great things, and there is of course a respect between the two teams.
“But it’s a competition. You can’t just accept, if we roll over and accept Mercedes win every race, it’s pretty boring, and why do we turn up?
Verstappen and Hamilton go wheel to wheel at the start of the US Grand Prix
Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
“We’re here to go racing, we want to take the challenge, we’ve been fighting to get into this position to take the fight to Mercedes for seven long seasons now.
“We’ve got ourselves into a competitive position. We want to make sure that we do our very, very best to convert this between now and the end of the year.
“It will be by far our biggest achievement in Formula 1 if we manage to do that in either of the championships.”