Horner tips Mercedes to be Paul Ricard ‘contender’

Henry Valantine
Christian Horner, Red Bull, surveys the grid. Austria July 2022.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner on the grid. Austria July 2022.

Christian Horner is expecting a competitive Mercedes package to arrive at Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix, and possibly even for the rest of the season.

Mercedes have been closer to the pace of the front-running Red Bull and Ferrari cars in recent races, with Lewis Hamilton having taken three consecutive podium finishes and while the top two are still “two to three tenths” in front, according to Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, the gap to the top of the field has closed significantly.

Horner believes the reigning Constructors’ champions have now managed to get on top of their bouncing and porpoising issues which have plagued them all season, with a markedly smoother ride for Hamilton and George Russell in the W13 of late.

The French Grand Prix will see Formula 1 head to one of the smoothest, flattest circuits of the season at Paul Ricard and because of those characteristics favouring the Mercedes cars, the Red Bull team principal thinks they could be a factor at the front at the weekend.

“We’ll expect them to be quick in [Paul] Ricard,” Horner told reporters, quoted by Motorsport.com. “They are showing flashes of being there or thereabouts.

Lewis Hamilton congratulates race winner Max Verstappen in parc ferme. Canada June 2022
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton congratulates race winner Max Verstappen in parc ferme. Canada June 2022

“The last two races have been pretty decent for them and there’s been no sign I think of any porpoising at all, so they seem to be slowly bringing themselves back into the game.”

Regarding the rest of the season, Horner feels Mercedes could end up wrestling their way into the fight for race wins if they keep up their current rate of improvement – with Max Verstappen feeling the tension between the two teams last season could bubble up again later in the year.

Mercedes could end up taking points away from Ferrari or Red Bull at the top of the table, which could lead to the championship becoming more open at the front. Even if Mercedes are now too far behind to compete for either title, they may upset the balance between the top two.

“I think they will be a contender,” Horner believes. “They keep consistently scoring points.

“I’m not sure how far off they are in the Constructors’ or Drivers’ [championships] at the moment but sometimes having more cars in play is a good thing, sometimes it might be a bad thing.

“But I think for the fans it’s great to have six cars competing for victories.”


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