Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he has no doubt Lewis Hamilton will be a factor for race wins in 2022 once Mercedes sorts its car issues.
Hamilton endured one of the toughest weekends of his career at Imola, failing to score a point after dropping out in Q2 and being stuck behind Pierre Gasly for the majority of the main race while teammate George Russell finished fourth.
While Horner says he isn’t paying too much attention to Mercedes’ performance struggles, he is sure Hamilton will be fighting with Red Bull and Ferrari for victories at some stage.
“He’s obviously had a horrible weekend (at Imola) but he’s still an eight-time world champion – seven! Seven-time, (Mercedes) are eight. I forgot Nico Rosberg won one – so he hasn’t forgotten how to drive in the last four races,” Horner said.
“At some point they’ll sort their issues out and he’ll become a factor I’ve got no doubt, but obviously the young guys are doing a great job at the moment.
“I don’t spend my time worrying about Mercedes’ problems, we’ve got enough issues of our own to be focused on. So that’s what I tend to focus on.”
Red Bull’s own problems had seen the team suffer a double-DNF in the opening round in Bahrain and then lose Max Verstappen from a comfortable second position in Melbourne, but Horner was delighted with the way those issues were resolved quickly.
“It was a great response, both in the factory in Milton Keynes and in Japan. The best possible response was to achieve maximum score – bar one point – across the two days of racing. So a great fightback and I’m very proud of the whole team.
“I think we’ve understood those issues, or the issue that we had in Australia which was different to the issue that we had in Bahrain. You can never say never, but obviously it’s demonstrated that we’ve managed to get on top of the issue from Australia.”