Christian Horner believes the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team will still be the one’s to beat despite the new regulations coming into effect in 2017 that are aimed to balance out the advantage of engines over aerodynamics.
The Team Principal of Red Bull Racing, the team that many are predicting to be at the sharp end of the grid in 2017 following the introduction of the new rules, still believes that Mercedes, unbeaten in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships since the hybrid era began in 2014, are still likely to be up front at the start of the new season.
“It’s going to be tough to overcome Mercedes,” said Horner on Autosport. “They go into the year as the clear favourites. They have won three consecutive world championships, they’ve won 50-odd Grand Prix in the last three years.
“We’re just hopeful we can close that gap so we don’t have predictable results every Grand Prix weekend. With the new regulations, it should balance out the emphasis between chassis and engine.”
Horner is hopeful that his team, which took two victories in 2016 in the hands of Max Verstappen in Spain and Daniel Ricciardo in Malaysia, will be able to make progress in 2017, but knows it will only become apparent to how much progress has been made when the new season starts in Australia in March.
“We’re confident we should make a bit of progress over the winter with the engine. The regulations are a clean sheet of paper for everybody so you don’t know where you sit at the moment compared to your opposition.
“It’s an opportunity or it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to but it’s only really when we get to Melbourne that we’ll get a glimpse of where the competitive ranking is.”