Wolff and Horner in a war of words over driver favouritism

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull boss Christian Horner had a little clash over comments that their teams were favouring one of their drivers over another.

The talk about driver favouritism started when Lewis Hamilton hinted Max Verstappen and Alex Albon aren’t enjoying the same treatment at Red Bull.

“What you’ve got to look at with the Red Bulls is, I think they’ve got a very good car,” said Hamilton.

“I think people downplay it, but they’ve got a very, very strong car, and Max is doing a great job with it.

“Unfortunately, both drivers aren’t there like me and Valtteri are there and that makes it harder for them.”

This of course prompted Christian Horner to respond and accuse Mercedes of favouring Hamilton over Bottas.

“I think Alex has run well in the races, he’s fourth in the world championship at the moment,” said Horner.

“Max is ahead of Valtteri [in the drivers’ championship] and it’s obvious that Mercedes favour Lewis. You see it on strategies, you see it in the positioning of the cars and so on.”

Horner went on to provide a recent example from the Belgian Grand Prix.

“Why wouldn’t they have put Bottas on a two-stop, for example, in Spa, that would have given him the opportunity to win the race?

“The problem is, obviously, everything is geared towards Lewis this year on his record-breaking or record-equalling campaign.

“The reality for Valtteri is, unless he qualifies ahead, he hasn’t got a chance,” Horner concluded.

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When asked about it, Toto Wolff used an example from the same race to highlight Red Bull was doing exactly the same strategy call.

“I spoke to [Horner] about that,” said Wolff.

“He said ‘Why didn’t you pit Valtteri for the second stop?’ And I said ‘If we would’ve known the two-stop was quicker, we would’ve pitted Lewis as well’.

“So in hindsight, the two-stop was the better strategy, but we didn’t want to lose position against Max because it was not clear whether we would beat Max on track.

“Then I said to him ‘Why didn’t you pit Max for a second stop? You could’ve beaten us’ and he said ‘We weren’t sure whether we would be able to overtake [Daniel] Ricciardo’.

“Well, hello, here we go! It’s exactly the same situation.”

The Austrian went on the reiterate that there is no driver favouritism at Mercedes.

“There’s no such thing as prioritising one driver versus the other.

“We’ve always played it completely transparent and fair and this is how we’re going to continue,” concluded Wolff.

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