Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is fully aware of Mercedes’ capabilities, and believes that Sir Lewis Hamilton can still fight for the title in 2022.
Hamilton suffered an abysmal weekend in Imola as he finished P14 in the sprint race having been eliminated in Q2 along with team-mate George Russell, and ended the grand prix in 13th while Russell managed to climb to fourth.
Team boss Toto Wolff apologised to him after the race and, having described the weekend in Bologna as one “to forget,” Hamilton ruled himself out of the championship battle this season.
On the face of it, the picture may look bleak for the Briton. He is 58 points adrift of championship leader Charles Leclerc, and his podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix in the opening round remains his best result of the season.
But Ferrari have rarely been short of a capitulation in recent years, and the Mercedes team’s resilience has frequently been tested.
They are tests that they usually pass with flying colours, and there’s the added optimism provided by the fact that Hamilton is a seven-time champion.
“Lewis had a horrible weekend but he hasn’t forgotten how to drive. Five races ago, he was fighting for the championship. They will get that car fixed and he can still be a factor in this championship,” Horner said.
“We don’t underestimate any of our rivals and the only thing we can do is focus on ourselves, try to maximise opportunities and make sure we take advantage of them.”
Red Bull secured their first one-two since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix as Max Verstappen won from team-mate Sergio Perez at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and Horner praised the efforts of everyone at the team, both at the track and back in the UK.
“All round, not only trackside but back in Milton Keynes, back at the factory, a wonderful, wonderful team performance,” he said.
The 48-year-old is looking forward to the pinnacle of motorsport’s inaugural visit to Miami, and hopes to build on the tremendous points haul last weekend.
“Miami’s going to be an epic race, there’s a lot of excitement, a lot of expectation around Miami,” he explained.
“I think it’s going to be a great event, they’re very excited about it so yeah, let’s see, we’ve got to try to build on this momentum now.
“To get the pole position, win the race yesterday, win today, a one-two finish – our first since 2016 – that’s a great result.”
Red Bull jumped ahead of Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship with their one-two at Imola, and now sit just 11 points behind Ferrari.