Mercedes declare ‘gloves are off’ in Red Bull fight with ‘elbows out’ as dig taken at FIA

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has fired a warning shot at Red Bull after declaring the “gloves are off” and “elbows are out” after the FIA rejected a review into Max Verstappen’s driving last time out in Brazil.

Mercedes were left aggrieved after the stewards decided not to investigate an incident between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, as the Dutchman appeared to push the seven-time world champion wide on lap 48.

Days after the event, Mercedes stated that new evidence had emerged from the incident, and lodged a right of review on Tuesday, with a hearing to take place on Thursday ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix.

The decision rumbled on overnight until Friday, with a decision confirmed during a team principal press conference in which Wolff and his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner were in attendance.

Ahead of the announcement, sitting alongside Horner, Wolff admitted the team didn’t expect to gain anything, but it was more about the “principle”.

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“When the intensity is highs is normal, there are two drivers, two teams, fighting for World Championship, It’s close,” began Wolff. “It’s swinging in one direction and then the other.

“Red Bull had a fantastic weekend in Mexico and then we were able to strike back the following weekend but it’s the tiniest of margins that could make a difference at the end.

“And also that has gone both ways. Max’s lost points with crashes that he wasn’t entirely responsible for and on the other side, we lost some points, for example, the Spa race, which shouldn’t have been as it was.

“So you fight every single point, we don’t expect to gain anything, to be honest from the right of review, but it’s more about the principle and the philosophy.

“Because if it stays that way that means overtaking from the outset is pretty much not possible anymore because the inside controls the corner completely.

“Now that is anyway the case but as it was before when a car is next to you, you need to leave a car’s width, that’s not the case.

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“So we just want to take it to the end. Have a judgement on that.

“And then adapt if necessary for the last few races. And you can see some of the drivers have actually expressed the same opinion.

“So that’s why we’re taking we’re making the stewards have another look at it.”

Tensions have been building up over the whole season between the two teams, on and off track, heading to the climax in Abu Dhabi.

But asked if there was any respect between Red Bull and Mercedes anymore, Wolff said: “As for the punches between the teams, there is many great people working in Red Bull, and obviously many great people working in Mercedes, and it’s a hell of a fight.

“There is a respect for the capability that Red Bull has, definitely.

“And 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, but that’s okay.

“We are in the ring, trying to do the best job possible. Elbows are out now because the rules say so.

“And the gloves are off. And nothing else to be is to be expected.”

Verstappen holds a 14-point lead over Hamilton heading into the final three races of the season, with Qatar followed by Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

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