RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has been quick to talk up his rivals Mercedes’ potential in 2022 – predicting that, despite a massive regulations overhaul, the Silver Arrows and their “extreme” W13 challenger will be a major factor in this year’s title fight.

    Last season saw an epic duel between the two squads, resulting in Red Bull and Max Verstappen taking the drivers’ crown, as Mercedes claimed a record eighth consecutive constructors’ title.

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    And asked on Day 2 of Bahrain’s Official Pre-Season Test how he viewed the 2022 pecking order so far, Horner replied that, while he felt Ferrari were looking resurgent, he didn’t doubt that Mercedes would be in the fight.

    “For me, car that looks most settled on the circuit is the Ferrari,” said Horner. “They’ve had a very strong testing period so far in Barcelona and in Bahrain... so I’d say they’ve looked extremely competitive out of everyone on track.

    “But you have to remember, these cars are still very immature. The rate of development will be fast and intense, and I expect that to change. Mercedes will be a huge factor in this championship, I have no doubt.”

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    Horner believes he and Verstappen will need to be wary of Mercedes

    Much has been made of the Mercedes W13 since it arrived in Bahrain with drastically redesigned sidepods compared to how it looked in Barcelona. And Horner lauded his rivals’ “innovative” solution to their 2022 car design.

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    “Obviously the jungle drums beat fairly loud on these kind of things in Formula 1 and there’d been rumours of a fairly radical interpretation,” said Horner.

    “It’s very innovative what Mercedes have come up with; it’s quite a different concept to certainly the concept that we’ve pursued and some of the others have. It shows the creativity that exists, even within constrictive regulations in Formula 1, that very different solutions are coming out.

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    “Now whether it’s the right route or whatever, only time will tell. What we see in Formula 1 is that there tends to be convergence over a period of time on design philosophies. But what’s so good about this sport is you get a clean sheet of paper, you get 10 different interpretations. Mercedes have come up with an extreme one that’s a different interpretation.

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    “But to answer your next question of whether we think it’s legal or not, yes absolutely. It looks like it ticks all the boxes.”

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