Ferrari didn’t dominant pre-season testing like they did last year but Christian Horner says it would be “foolish” to underestimate the Scuderia.
Mercedes set the pace in this year’s pre-season testing with Valtteri Bottas fastest of all at the Circuit de Catalunya.
His 1:15.7 put him six-tenths up on Max Verstappen while Charles Leclerc was only P4 for Ferrari.
The Italian stable has admitted it is worried as, while the SF1000 may be cornering better than its predecessor, it is lacking down the straights.
As such Ferrari reckons it could be trounced come Melbourne.
Red Bull team boss Horner isn’t so sure.
“That is always the dangerous thing about pre-season testing, trying to draw too many conclusions,” the Brit told Motorsportweek.com.
“Ferrari look understated at the last test but they are starting to wind it up and I think it would be foolish to underestimate them going to Melbourne.
“Mercedes are the reigning six-time World Champions and very much the favourites.
“Their form has always looked strong here and you want to have your issues in testing not when you are racing so winter testing can sometimes be a little deceptive but I think it will be the same teams fighting at the sharp end of the grid this year.”
Last season Mercedes claimed the bulk of the race wins with Ferrari and Red Bull each taking three. A quick check of the odds comparison sites before the season starts suggests a similar trait.
Eight of Mercedes’ wins came in the first eight races of the season as the Brackley squad made a flying start on its way to a sixth successive championship double.
This year Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko reckons Red Bull could challenge Mercedes from the very start of the championship.
“Testing is deceiving and the teams hide what they really are doing,” he said.
“But we are certainly much better prepared than in recent years.
“I think we can fight with Mercedes for victory in Australia.”