Christian Horner has expressed surprise that Mercedes have provided so little threat to Red Bull’s chances of a title double this season.
Having seen off the challenge of a malfunctioning Ferrari team, Red Bull are out clear in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships and on course to capture both with races to spare.
Mercedes could yet pip Ferrari to second place in the teams’ standings, but are yet to win a grand prix this year having been off the pace ever since testing when they unveiled a W13 with no sidepods.
Given how closely matched the two constructors were last term, when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton entered the Abu Dhabi finale level on points, Horner is taken aback by how Mercedes got their interpretation of the new regulations for 2022 so wrong.
Asked during the Beyond the Grid podcast if he had been surprised by Mercedes’ relative lack of pace, Horner replied: “Yes, because they transitioned early, they made quite a noise about compromising last year’s championship because of moving over very early to their 2022 car.
“Of course, when their car broke cover, particularly with this upgrade, it looked so radically different that the expectation, from seeing how dominant Mercedes have been, was that they would be in a very similar position, that obviously it hurt last year getting beat.
“We felt they would come back with a renewed vengeance for this year. So, quite remarkable that after the domination they have had for the last eight years that they have yet to win a grand prix in 2022.”
When it was first reported that Mercedes had gone in a different direction to everyone else with their design, there were even reports that it could make them a second per lap faster.
But it soon became apparent that was not the case, and Horner insisted Red Bull had always retained confidence that their own approach was the correct one.
“The first question was is it legal, because it’s a very different interpretation. Of course, it was,” said Horner of the Mercedes concept.
“And then the guys [here] were pretty convinced early on that they just didn’t feel it would work within the architecture we had created. So there was an inner confidence that we’d picked the right route.
“And of course when the lap times started to come in from that Bahrain test and you visibly saw the cars on track, it didn’t look like they had got a rocket ship or that we had missed something fundamental.”