Sebastian Vettel has hit back at championship rival Fernando Alonso's claim that the Ferrari driver is really fighting against Red Bull's renowned designer Adrian Newey.
Watching his title hopes slip further under the wheels of Vettel's dominance in India, Ferrari's Alonso said after qualifying: "When we had similar cars to everyone, we were leading the championship.
We're not fighting with Vettel and Webber, but with Newey and his car.
"Now we are fighting against a Newey car," he added, in English. "They are first and second all the time; it's not only Sebastian."
Alonso's comments were not just a momentary slip of frustration.
He is also quoted in Italian: "If you want to win the championship you need to have the same resources as your competitors.
"We had them before and were at the top, but now we don't and we are behind.
"We're not fighting with Vettel and Webber, but with Newey and his car."
And in the Spanish media, Alonso is quoted as saying: "Yes, Vettel is not a bad driver, but at the last race his teammate (Webber) had the pole.
"Sebastian is a double world champion, but he has a car that is first regardless."
When asked about Alonso's comments, championship leader and India pole-sitter Vettel said F1 is a "competition amongst teams and all of their members".
"So I don't think that this would be a fair statement towards any team member," he told F1's official website.
But he also admitted when contemplating Sunday's race: "If they (the Red Bulls) start well, go away and have an easy race, that's the worse news for us."
On a visit to India, Spanish king Juan Carlos I responded to Vettel's dominance with humour, predicting that for Alonso "to win, we need only to put some thumbtacks under Vettel's car".