Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says the opening lap crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at the British Grand Prix was a gloves-off moment for his team in its title fight with Mercedes.
With five races to go in this year's thrilling campaign, starting with this week's Mexican Grand Prix, Verstappen and Hamilton are separated by just 12 points in the championship while Mercedes still leads Red Bull in the Constructors' standings by 22.5 points.
But the battle on the track between F1's front-runners has extended to skirmishes off the track, with the relationship between Red Bull and Mercedes becoming increasingly acrimonious, with their respective team bosses often engaging in a war of words.
Asked when the gloves really came off between the two arch-rivals, Horner predictably pointed to the contentious run-in at Silverstone between Verstappen and Hamilton as the turning point on the cut throat fight between Red Bull and Mercedes.
"The British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July – when Max and Lewis crashed on the first lap," Horner told British website Luxury London.
"I don’t think many people realise the severity of a crash like that at over 200mph. It was brutal.
"Max impacted at 51G – it actually broke the seat of his car. He was momentarily knocked out and we couldn’t reach him on the team radio.
"Your immediate focus is on the health of your driver. Anybody in F1 knows Copse is a high-speed corner, one of the most dangerous in the sport.
"In that moment I realised what we were up against."
Although the media, spurred on by the sometimes provoking wisecracks emanating from both camps, often pits Horner and his Mercedes counter-part Toto Wolff against each other, the Red Bull team boss insists he brushes off the negative commentary from his adversary.
“I don’t pay much attention to the Toto situation, even if the media likes to build it up," Horner said.
"The intensity of the competition is so fierce that one mistake could cost either team the title.
"This is also the first time Mercedes has been under this level of pressure in seven seasons – it will be interesting to see how they deal with that. Toto and I are not similar characters.
"He is a financial guy and I grew up in the industry. It doesn’t make one right or the other one wrong but we are very different people.
"We have a handful of races to go, varying circuits around the world, the situation is very exciting, even for the impartial F1 fan."