Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner believes the fight for the 2021 World Championship is more political than previous battles, with no shortage of action and maneuvering behind the scenes.
Lewis Hamilton currently sits atop the standings following his Russian Grand Prix victory, with championship rival Max Verstappen only two points adrift thanks to his second-place finish.
Their battle on track has resulted in several talking points, but the rivalry between the two drivers and teams has continued off the circuit as well.
Horner noted that previous championship battles with McLaren and Ferrari haven't been as political as this one, making a joke about documents Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff sent to the FIA earlier in the year.
"When we competed against McLaren for the championship and Lewis was driving for them, and when we were competing against Ferrari with Fernando Alonso and Stefano Domenicali, it was a very different atmosphere to this one," Horner told the PA news agency.
"This has felt a lot more political with lots more going on behind the scenes. The inbox from Toto to the FIA, they are going to need a major clearout at the end of the year.
"Toto has never been in a position where he has been challenged. He inherited a very competitive team from Ross Brawn and he has done a great job in maintaining that but this is the first time he has had this kind of pressure and people react to pressure in different ways."
While Hamilton is looking to clinch a record-breaking eighth World Championship, Verstappen is involved in his first fight for the title.
Horner believes that Hamilton is actually feeling the heat despite his best attempts to suggest Verstappen is the one under pressure.
"Lewis loves to try and play with people's minds, and Max just doesn't bite," Horner added.
"When you point a finger in a direction, there are three pointing back at you, and the one that is really feeling the pressure is Lewis.
"He is fighting to be the most successful driver of all time, he is the defending champion. Max is 23, he has got many years ahead of him, and coming into this season he was the outsider. He is just enjoying it, the racing, the challenge, and he has the benefit of youth.
"Time never stands still and Lewis has achieved so much, a phenomenal champion, but there is always going to be the next generation."
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