Red Bull Formula One boss Christian Horner praised Mercedes rival Toto Wolff for speaking out about the mental health issues that he has dealt with for more than a decade during unprecedented success.
Wolff, an Austrian, told the Sunday Times last week that he had been seeing a psychiatrist since 2004 and has had more than 500 hours of therapy.
“I have suffered mentally; I still do. Getting help is a way of overcoming my problems, and it has helped me to access untapped potential,” said the man who has steered Mercedes to a record eight successive constructors’ titles.
“I’ve never had any problem with the stigma. Some of the most successful people are very, very sensitive, and very, very sensitive means very, very vulnerable.”
Horner told reporters at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix that it was an important topic.
“All credit to Toto for having the courage to talk out about his issues with mental health,” he said. “I think that it is something in this business that we are acutely aware of and something that we’re looking to be proactive on.
“I’m fortunate that I haven’t had issues personally, but I’ve had … friends that I know who have suffered as a result of mental health issues.”
Wolff and Horner waged a season-long war of words last year as the battle between their teams raged and Mercedes’ seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton fought Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the title.
Verstappen won the final showdown, with Hamilton and Mercedes feeling robbed by a controversial late safety car decision made by now-departed race director Michael Masi.
Wolff called Horner a “windbag” during last season’s verbal sparring and likened the Briton to a driver going the wrong way on the autobahn and still thinking he was the only one in the right, while the Red Bull boss had compared Wolff to a pantomime dame.
Despite his often combative persona and figurehead role, Wolff said he had felt depressed and inadequate.
“Everything depends upon how you perceive yourself. High-profile people who seem to have everything but are struggling, I think we have an obligation to say we’re getting help and it’s OK to get help,” he said.
“Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka deserve a lot of credit for how they’ve spoken about this.”
U.S. Olympic gymnast Biles brought about a groundbreaking global conversation around athletes’ mental well-being at last year’s Tokyo Games, and tennis player Osaka has been open about her mental health.