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.