Christian Horner expects 6-way title fight as he fires warning about Mercedes’ pace in France

Mercedes have been starting to bring themselves back into play in recent weeks.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has frequently said this season that he expects Mercedes to make it a three-way fight at the front after their sluggish start to the season, and he has continued that trend ahead of the French Grand Prix.

Mercedes are yet to win a race in 2022 due to the problems they have faced amid the arrival of the new technical regulations that have brought about the return of ground effect aerodynamics.

Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have, however, shown plenty more indications of completeness in recent rounds, and four consecutive podiums are a sign that they are on the right track.

They have upgrades on the way in the next few rounds of the year, including some barely visible ones on the floor, and with new regulations coming into force after the summer break, the German side might be able to interrupt the status quo in the coming months.

READ: Christian Horner tells the FIA to expect chaos at 2022 French Grand Prix

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz are the only four race winners so far this year, but it has been on smooth track surfaces that the Silver Arrows have threatened to disturb that.

The Circuit Paul Ricard is a luxury when it comes to a smooth ride, so Horner anticipates a tough challenge from the eight-time constructors’ champions this weekend.

“We’ll expect them to be quick in [Paul] Ricard,” he said, quoted by

“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.”

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READ: Christian Horner responds to Red Bull accusation about Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez

Third-placed Mercedes are 122 points behind leaders Red Bull in the constructors’ battle right now, while Ferrari are 56 points back from the Austrian side.

Having a third team fighting for wins can help both of the leading two gain more points over their rivals in the crucial final stages of the season but, more than that, a six-way fight for pole and the win is exactly what we were looking for when the new regulations arrived.

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

“I’m not sure how far off they are in the Constructors’ or Drivers’ [Standings] 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.”

Verstappen leads the way in the drivers’ battle by 38 points from Leclerc heading into the 12th round of the season in France this weekend.