With plenty of driver moves, revised regulations and two rebranded teams, 2021 looks set to be another fascinating season of F1 – and many in the paddock believe it will be just as competitive as last year.
Fans are hopeful that the sharp end of the field, in particular, will be more competitive than it has been in the last couple of seasons.
Speaking this week, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner seemed somewhat optimistic about his team’s chances of winning silverware this upcoming season, but he made it clear that he believes Mercedes are still the team to beat.
“The Mercedes is quite a machine, but we’ve demonstrated that you can beat them – by working hard, by applying yourself to the task in hand,” Horner said in an interview with Autosport.
“I think they will be tremendously motivated because of that last race in Abu Dhabi and I expect Toto [Wolff] has used that, and James Allison, to come up with an even more competitive car for this year,” he added, referring to the fact that Max Verstappen won the final race of 2020.
“So we don’t in any way underestimate the might of Mercedes.
“Our objective is to take the lessons we learned in 2020 into 2021. And hopefully, the RB16B will be a good evolution.
“Mercedes are the clear favourites with seven consecutive titles, but we are excited about the challenge this season and won’t give up in our hunt for a fifth title.”
Horner added that he is hopeful that they can mount a “more sustained challenge” against Mercedes in 2021:
“We’ve seen one team be totally dominant for the last seven years.
“And with continuity going into this year of largely car and drivers [being the same], on the Mercedes side you would expect them to be in a very strong position again.
“But I hope by using the lessons we’ve learned from 2020, we can put a more sustained challenge to Mercedes, who will undoubtedly be incredibly strong and very much the favourites this year – particularly off the back of a car which was arguably their best car of the hybrid era.
“That will be quite a challenge for us, but one we are relishing,” the Red Bull team principal added.
Earlier this week, Mercedes technology director Mike Elliott said he believes the addition of Sergio Perez to Red Bull will make them a more formidable rival.
“They [Red Bull] will be our strongest opposition and I think in Verstappen they have a very good driver, and I think Perez will be a strong second driver to him for scoring points when Verstappen doesn’t [and] support their bid for the Constructors’ Championship,” he opined.
And, with Honda providing Red Bull with an upgraded version of its power unit this upcoming season, there is certainly a chance things might be closer up front than last year.