Christian Horner believes Mercedes' "inability to control" the Red Bull Racing team like they have done others is at the heart of the tension between the two title favourites. The Englishman feels Mercedes are threatened by the Austrian team's ability to thrive under pressure and come out on top despite not being a motor racing giant.

It is no secret that Toto Wolff wields his power not only at Mercedes where he is the team principal but also marginally at teams such as Williams and Aston Martin. The Austrian was part of the Williams team previously, but cut ties after taking over at Mercedes. Wolff owns shares of Aston Martin, which was recently taken over by Lawrence Stroll.

The Silver Arrows supply power units to the aforementioned British outfits, and even supply drivers from their junior program. Horner feels Red Bull's ability to remain independent of this control is what irks Wolff and Mercedes.

Toto Wolff
Toto Wolff is hoping for a clean title fight next weekend ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/POOL via AFP

Moreover, Red Bull have taken over Honda's F1 power unit department, and are hoping to develop their own engines by 2025 under Red Bull Powertrains. Horner feels this step has further angered the Brackley-based team as to how an energy drinks company can produce engines that can challenge the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault.

"We are a bit more of a maverick than any other team and that is why Mercedes have not been able to control us. Either through engine supply or drivers, Mercedes have done that with pretty much every other team over past years," Horner told the Daily Mail.

"That inability to control us is at the heart of the tension between us. They are a very controlling group. That is Toto's mantra. Suddenly, we are playing in their back yard with the engine too. How can an energy drinks company build a chassis that takes on and beats Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault, McLaren? It sits very uncomfortably," he said.

Christian Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP

"Now that we are taking on the power unit and attracting some of the best talent in the business, that is even worse. How can Red Bull produce a competitive engine? That's our target," he added.

Hamilton and Verstappen alongside their respective teams will renew their on-track rivalry yet again when the 2022 season gets underway this weekend. The pre-season tests are done, and the first race will take place at the Bahrain International Circuit on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton
Max Verstappen won an epic season-long battle with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP