Mercedes have dominated Formula 1’s V6 turbo-hybrid era, with them winning every Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship since 2014.
However, Red Bull entered 2021 with the most competitive car on the grid, and although Mercedes have closed the performance gap, the Milton Keynes-based team still stand a good chance of winning a title this year.
With the rivals engaged in a fierce Championship battle from the get-go, Mercedes complained to the FIA about the “flexible” rear wing of Red Bull’s 2021 challenger.
Horner has said that this “finger pointing” indicates Mercedes see Red Bull as a threat.
“They [Mercedes] have put an awful lot of energy into that, more than you would expect – it’s been a clear strategy,” Horner said in an interview with Motorsport.com.
“But I think it just shows they see us as a threat. And I think you’re doing something right when people start pointing fingers,” he added.
Asked for his thoughts on how the 2021 regulation changes – which mandated cuts to the rear floor area and other downforce-generating components toward the rear of the cars – have impacted high-rake and low-rake cars differently, Horner said Red Bull initially thought cars with a high-rake aero design philosophy would be impacted more severely.
“We’ve benefited obviously from a degree of continuity of the carry-over components,” Horner said.
“And I think the fact the correlation had come together, that we understood where our issues were and were able to address those, I think that was the key element, certainly for the first six months of this year.
“We were actually concerned the rules would have a big effect on the high-rake cars.
“I think it was a combination of things – that we managed to understand some of our issues, managed to address an awful lot of them and just make a more rounded package.
“I think that, combined with Honda pulling their engine that was originally scheduled for 2022 into this year, being their final season in Formula 1, which was a Herculean effort on their side, it has enabled everything to come together,” he concluded.