Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes it is too simplistic to suggest Mercedes has the momentum in the championship battle based on the past two races.
Lewis Hamilton won in Brazil despite starting the Sprint from the back of the grid and climbing through to fifth, with another grid penalty for the main race seeing him start from 10th place. He then followed that up with a relatively comfortable victory in Qatar to cut Max Verstappen’s lead in the drivers’ championship to eight points, but Horner says the prior two races in Mexico and the United States — where Verstappen won — need taking into account.
“I think we’ve been round the world pretty much over the last three weekends and we’ve pretty much finished where we started with the points difference,” Horner said. “It’s incredibly close and Mercedes have got a very quick car at the moment. In Mexico, the pendulum was with us, Austin there was nothing to choose between the two.
“I’m glad to be taking an eight-point advantage into the next race, so we’ve just got to do the best that we can and we need to maximize our chances. I think I said at the start of the season that this will go all the way to Abu Dhabi and I haven’t changed my opinion yet.
“I think it’s going to be tight. The next track arguably should favor Mercedes, and Abu Dhabi, with the modifications made there, who knows? It’s been incredibly tight, so we go into these last races eight points in the lead in the drivers’ championship. We’ve reduced the championship lead in the constructors’ to five points, so both are fully in play. That’s fantastic, because we’re now at the climax of this championship.”
Horner says the likelihood of a Red Bull protest against the Mercedes rear wing is receding after new load tests introduced by the FIA in Qatar.
“I think that it’s being well policed and I’m confident that the tests that have been introduced should eradicate any ability to circumnavigate.
“What we’ve seen in recent races has been abnormal straight-line speed. The fact that Toto (Wolff, Mercedes team principal) has felt the need to point out that we’ve gained straight-line speed when nothing’s changed… I think it is encouraging that for the first race since prior to Silverstone, we’ve been able to match them in straight-line speed and it’s been exponential at recent races.”