Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says there is "no relationship" with Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff amid the tough fight between their teams for both World Championship titles in 2021.
Horner and Wolff were pitted against each other during Friday's Team Principals' press conference at the Qatar Grand Prix, with recent on- and off-track controversies discussed at length by both parties.
It coincided with the stewards' verdict not to grant Mercedes a right of review regarding the clash between title rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the Brazilian Grand Prix, which has only added to the tensions.
"There is no relationship"
Asked about relations between Mercedes and Red Bull at this stage of the season, Horner made his feelings clear.
"There is no relationship, there's a competition," Horner told accredited media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I think it was interesting to hear Toto's views after the Sprint race last week on the team radio. I think it's the first time they've been challenged. It's interesting to see how people react under pressure, how they react when they're challenged.
"It's by far the most intense political title fight that we've been evolved in during our time in this sport."
"I don't need to kiss his arse"
Horner was then asked, if there is "no relationship" between himself and Wolff, whether he still has respect for Mercedes and what the team have achieved.
"I think relationship and respect are two different things," he commented.
"Of course, there's respect for everything that Mercedes have done, everything that Lewis Hamilton has done, but I don't need to go to dinner with Toto, [and] I don't need to kiss his arse, or anything like that.
"There are a few other Team Principals that might but, you know, from my perspective, it's a competition. I think it's great that we're in this position.
"I think the sport is a big winner out of this, and I just hope that we have a hard and fair fight between now and the end of the season."
Wolff says "the gloves are off"
Wolff also chimed in with his views, speaking of the respect he has for Red Bull, but noting how the battle between the two teams has ramped up over the course of the season.
"There are many great people working at Red Bull and obviously many great people working at Mercedes, and it's a hell of a fight," said Wolff.
"There is a respect for the capability Red Bull has, definitely. It's clear that this is tough. It's the World Championship of the highest category in motor racing and what started as Olympic boxing went to pro boxing and is now MMA [mixed martial arts], but that's OK.
"We are in the ring there, trying to do the best job possible, [and the] elbows are out now, because the rules say so, and the gloves are off. Nothing else is to be expected."
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