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Horner expects Mercedes to join championship fight ‘fairly soon’

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Red Bull boss Christian Horner reckons rivals Mercedes will join the fight at the front of the Formula 1 field “fairly soon” after a difficult start to the season.

Eight-time reigning world champions Mercedes have struggled to get on top of the porpoising phenomenon which has afflicted the 2022 generation of cars.

As a result, they have failed to challenge for pole positions and race wins, with Red Bull and Ferrari emerging as the chief championship contenders.

READ MORE: Wolff says Mercedes' Miami upgrades not ‘a ground-breaking solution’

However, Mercedes brought a raft of upgrades to Miami, including a new low downforce rear wing, updated front wing and revised beam wing, and showed encouraging pace on Friday, with George Russell claiming P1 in Free Practice 2.

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Christian Horner praised the racing of both Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, but believes it is too early to write off Mercedes

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff argued that the package wasn't a “ground-breaking solution” – a view seemingly borne out in Saturday’s qualifying session, as Lewis Hamilton finished behind Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas in P6, as Russell could do no better than P12.

But with Horner asked about his mindset in fighting Ferrari rather than Mercedes this year – and how that dynamic might play out in Netflix's Formula 1: Drive To Survive show, which it was confirmed ahead of Miami would return for a fifth and sixth season – the Red Bull chief replied: “It’s different competition. You’re writing Toto off, but his car was quickest [on Friday] – there’s plenty of time for him to get back in the show.

“Last year there was a lot of needle, there was a lot going on, off-track as well as on-track, whereas this year seems much more focused about what's going on on-track. I think the racing's been great between Charles and Max.

READ MORE: Mercedes drivers cautiously optimistic on Miami GP upgrades, as Hamilton praises ‘Super Bowl’-like build-up

“The first four races have been epic, and if that continues through the season, inevitably it’s going to boil over at some point as it gets more competitive and the stakes get higher in the second half of the year. But certainly, what we’ve seen so far has been very respectful racing – hard racing but fair racing. I think you’re going to see Mercedes joining that party fairly soon.”

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