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Horner: Mercedes still F1 title favorite despite regulation changes

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner believes that Mercedes is still the favorite to claim both championships in 2017 despite a change in the technical regulations for the new season.

Mercedes has dominated proceedings in F1 since the introduction of the new V6 turbo power units in 2014, taking three straight championship doubles.

2017 will see a seismic change in the regulations, placing a greater onus on aerodynamic design and tire management, leading many to tip Red Bull to challenge Mercedes’ supremacy.

“It feels like we are building momentum. 2016 has been all about building that momentum and there is a feeling of real optimism within the team,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“If we can nudge a bit closer on the engine [and] chassis we are hoping to come up with a good car to give our guys the tools to fight Mercedes next year.”

While Horner is confident that Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen can take the fight to Mercedes in 2017 given the right car, he still expects the German marque to be the strongest team even with the regulation tweaks.

“2017 is a clean sheet of paper and no one knows where the opposition are. We’ve been quite good with regulation changes before, but nothing can be taken for granted.

“We are hoping similar progress can be made with the engine, and if that happens I think we have two very capable drivers of taking the fight to Mercedes.

“Mercedes will be the favorites heading into next year, but if we can narrow that gap down and put them under a bit of pressure it would be great for everyone.”

Red Bull finished second in last year’s constructors’ championship, claiming two race victories to deny Mercedes a clean sweep of wins through the season.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.