By now, it’s been established that Mercedes is the favorite going into this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix while Red Bull, the reigning four-time World Champions, are battling to be competitive after a dismal run of preseason testing.
No doubt the other teams in the paddock are thrilled at this development, but Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, appears to have indicated that while his team won’t be their dominant selves, Merc’s tandem of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg may very well pick up where they’ve left off.
‘You could see a higher level of domination than we had last year,” he told the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper. “Looking at Mercedes’ race simulation, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they finished two laps ahead of everyone in Melbourne. They have a massive advantage.”
Whether it’s a last-minute bit of preseason mind games or not, only Horner knows for sure. But his additional declaration to the Mail that Hamilton is the favorite to become a two-time World Champion does go along with what’s being predicted by at least some observers going into Melbourne.
“What we know about Lewis is that he is extremely talented and naturally fast,” he said. “And he’s in a good team, so he’s probably got to be the favorite going into the season.”
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has also made Hamilton his pick for the title this season, even though he told Germany’s Sport Bild that Red Bull’s top gun, Sebastian Vettel, will ultimately be the best to adapt to the new 2014 regulations “once his car gives him the chance to do so.”
Speaking of the RB10, Horner is confident that the team and engine partner Renault will be able to turn things around by the time the World Championship calendar enters its European stage later this spring.
‘We believe it is inherently a good car,” he said, again to the Mail. “I have every confidence in the team. There’s no panic. There are engineering solutions and there is no better set of engineers in the pit lane.
“By the time we get to the European races in May, we should be OK.”