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Christian Horner left red-faced as Toto Wolff gives brutal reply to Red Bull chief

Toto Wolff has hit back at Christian Horner’s claim that Red Bull have taken ‘220 staff’ from Mercedes over the past handful of years, suggesting that the true number stands at just 19 and that the 50-year-old should ‘work on his maths’.

Long-time rivals Horner and Wolff have been in a war of words of late with the latter suggesting that Adrian Newey’s departure could be a sign of things to come and that he had already seen numerous CVs land on his desk from Red Bull employees looking to swap Milton Keynes for Brackley.

In response, Horner flipped the score, firing back: “Mercedes, we’ve taken 220 people, 220, out of HPP into Red Bull Powertrains so when we talk about losing people I would be more worried about the 220 than one or two CVs.”

These comments didn’t land well with Wolff, who was quick to point out the discrepancies in Horner’s bold claims about Red Bull’s hiring streak. “You got to work on the maths,” he batted back in Imola. “19 engineers.

“Whatever those numbers are, I think there’s natural fluctuations between teams that come and go, which is completely normal. I think we have an engine department that is as good as it can be with top leadership.

“There is not a millimetre in HPP that I wish would be different in terms of organisational set-up, in terms of the people that work there that I am lucky to interact with. It’s just a perfect organisation.

“You can see they’re just delivering and they have delivered for a long time. Since 2014, we have been pretty much the benchmark, or with maybe another engine, the benchmark. So that hasn’t changed. I really can’t wait for 2026 to come and see the different levels of performance of the power units.”

While Mercedes’ concerning start to the 2024 campaign is a signal that they are unlikely to return to race-win contention before the current regulation period ends in 2025, the noises coming out of the Silver Arrows’ camp about their 2026 power unit project are extremely positive, and this air of optimism will help Wolff keep hold of key personnel.

This was backed up by technical director James Allison, who told Sky Sports F1: “I wasn’t in the team in the run-up to 2014 when the new generation of power units were being concocted and the enormous push to make them a reality was taking place.

“But those of us in the team who were, tell me that the feeling is very similar. There is a massive shove going on in HPP to make a success of that because it will set the course of anyone who’s lucky enough to have that in the back of their car for some seasons to come.”


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