Red Bull/Mercedes 'conflict' could return to F1 before end of 2022 - Verstappen

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Max Verstappen has suggested the "conflict" between Red Bull and Mercedes from 2021 could reignite before the end of this season.

This year's new regulations have kept the two teams apart on track for much of the year, as Red Bull battled Ferrari at the front, while Mercedes struggled with porpoising and bouncing in the midfield.

In recent races though, upgrades have clearly made the Silver Arrows the third-fastest cars on track and within striking distance of the leaders.

“They are better than at the start of the year but they need just a little bit more,” Verstappen told Servus TV via RacingNews365.

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“They are not bad over a single lap, but in the race on Sunday (Austrian Grand Prix), you saw we got away from them quickly.

“I think it also has to do with the different circuits. At Silverstone, they were very fast in the race.

“It’s the same with us and Ferrari. It’s about the details that can make the difference in the end.”

Off the track, the lingering tensions between Mercedes and Red Bull have been more apparent, particularly as the FIA's recent efforts to limit porpoising have evolved into a broader clampdown on floor/plank flexing.

And if Mercedes do reach the same level as the Dutchman's team, he does see the potential for more sparks between Toto Wolff and Christian Horner

“Last year’s conflict was not necessarily between the drivers but more between the teams,” Verstappen claimed.

“We are, of course, not fighting with Mercedes at the moment, but I think it will be different if we fight each other again. Maybe at the end of the season. We’ll see.”

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Asked about the relationship between himself and Lewis Hamilton, Max replied: “We all have a lot of respect for each other. If someone does well, you can of course just say that to each other.”

As for Mercedes boss Wolff, recently commenting on this year's championship battle, he did have a dig at the current world champion.

“Last year Max drove a worse car with a crowbar and won the title,” he told Austria's OE24.

“Now he has the fastest car, so everything is easier for him, the pendulum is swinging in his favour.”