F1 set for classic season battle against Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari – Horner

by Findlay Grant

Red Bull Racing‘s Christian Horner believes the upcoming season will present the same intense battle and rivalry between the Austrian outfit, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, and Scuderia Ferrari since the beginning of the hybrid era in 2014.

Horner considers there to be a very slim chance of mixing up the order, “unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat”.

Following pre-season testing last year, it looked as though Ferrari would be able to take the fight to Mercedes, but it was not to be; as the Silver Arrows claimed victory in the first eight races of the season.

Regulation changes were one of the things which Red Bull consider to have put them on the back foot, while Ferrari struggled with the introduction of tyres with a much thinner tread. No such change has been implemented ahead of the 2020 season, however.

“We’ve got continuity across all aspects of next year with drivers, with regulations, with engine supply, engine regulation,” said Horner to Motorsport.com.

“So unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat, then I think we’re set for a really exciting year next year between, Mercedes, Ferrari, ourselves.

“And it could be a real classic season.”

Star driver Max Verstappen, who has just signed a contract extension with the team until the end of the 2023 season, had made it clear that he feels it is of vital importance to be challenging for wins and podiums at the start.

Horner sees no reason why this would not be a possibility, following their switch from Renault to Honda power.

“And of course also, at that time we were still catching up on from the power perspective.

“But I think from Austria onwards, we really got on top of that and the second half of the year for us has been very competitive.

“I mean, if I look back to 2017, we had a fantastic car at the start of the year, we should have been on the front row in Melbourne, we won the second race in China.

“We had a very, very competitive car, the beginning of ‘17. And again, that was with stability of regulations, and I think we have that again from 2019 into ‘20.

“You can’t gauge what others are doing. But hopefully, theoretically, the Melbourne [‘20] car will be an upgrade of the Abu Dhabi [‘19] car.”

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