Christian Horner has hit back at Mercedes after F1 technical director James Allison suggested Red Bull’s most recent upgrade package was a “downgrade” ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen clinched his third consecutive win at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in a chaotic wet race.

The Dutchman didn’t seem to have the fastest car but made fewer mistakes than his rivals to take his 60th career F1 win.

It meant that Red Bull once again struggled to replicate their dominant form from earlier in the season.

As a result, Allison suggested that their latest developments caused Red Bull to slip back in the pecking order.

Allison said in Canada: “It does look as if their upgrade was a downgrade,” explained Allison. “So, fingers crossed that would really mess them up.

“That makes life hard, because the moment you stop trusting your tools, you have to backtrack, and you lose loads of time. Time is your biggest friend, losing it is your worst enemy.”

Unsurprisingly, Horner fired a shot back at Mercedes and Allison.

“Even with our downgrade, we managed to beat their upgrade,” Horner commented “It was a rewarding race to win.”

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20 celebrates at the end of the race. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB20 celebrates at the…

Red Bull have still won six of the opening nine races this season – and Verstappen has a commanding lead in the championship.

Horner expects Red Bull’s rivals to continue to remain a threat for the rest of the year.

“The last couple of races have been more choppy waters for us, but we have still managed to win two out of the last three races,” Horner added.

“We had a pole in Imola, we managed to match the pole time here with a car that both drivers are feeling its deficiencies. So there is a lot of focus on that to see if we can improve that.

“We know there are circuits later in the year like Singapore where it [ride issues] could be a factor. But we really expect Ferrari, McLaren – and Mercedes who came into that window this weekend – to be competitive at every circuit.

“So I think despite having won six of the nine races – we are going to have to be top of our game to keep eking out a gap.”