Horner unbothered by Mercedes’ stuttering start to 2022

Red Bull and Ferrari have made an impressive start to the 2022 season, appearing to hold a comfortable advantage over Mercedes.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s focus is not on Mercedes’ stuttering start to the 2022 season, but he is sure that they will return to the front in due course.

While Red Bull and Ferrari have adapted excellently to the new technical regulations, Mercedes have fallen back as a result of numerous factors that have thus far inhibited their 2022 challenger.

Not least of those is the “porpoising” caused by the fact that the cars are now running significantly lower to the ground, but Red Bull and Ferrari have been less affected by this issue and their respective cars are leading the pack, with Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen taking out the first two wins of the season.

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Sir Lewis Hamilton earned a podium in Bahrain after pouncing on reliability issues for Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez, but his 16th-placed qualifying in Jeddah epitomised what has been an erratic car in the early going this year.

Horner is certain that the eight-time constructors’ champions can negotiate their way through their impediments and climb back to the top, but his attention is on ensuring the success of his own team.

“They are struggling. I have no feelings about their competitiveness,” Horner said.

“Obviously, I am focused on our competitiveness in what is a very intense fight with Ferrari at the moment. I have no doubt that at some point, Mercedes will join that battle but my focus is very much on our team.”

Verstappen bounced back from his heart-breaking late retirement in Bahrain to capture his 21st career victory in Saudi Arabia, and Horner is delighted with the form of the reigning world champion and Perez, who was cruelly denied victory by a Safety Car in Jeddah having taken pole.

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“It is still early in the season,” explained the 48-year-old.

“Luck tends to even itself out over the course of the year so I think we have just got to go race by race.

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“We are off the mark now, we are on the scoreboard, we have won our first race of the year, both drivers have been again, very competitive and we have just got to build some momentum.”

Leclerc leads team-mate Carlos Sainz by 12 points in the Drivers’ Championship, giving Ferrari the advantage in the Constructors’ Standings as F1 gears up for the 2022 Australian Grand Prix on 10 April.