Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes Mercedes is slowly bringing itself back into the mix for race victories and will be strong at the French Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton has finished on the podium in three consecutive races and George Russell backed his teammate up with fourth place in two of those, while the positions were reversed in Azerbaijan where Russell was third. Hamilton had a particularly competitive run at Silverstone and was in the fight for the win for most of the race, and Horner expects Paul Ricard to be another track that suits Mercedes.
“We’d expect them to be quick in Ricard,” Horner said. “They’re showing flashes of being there or thereabouts, the last two races have been pretty decent for them and there has been no sign I think of any porpoising at all. So they seem to be slowly bringing themselves back into the game.
“I think they’ll be a contender [for wins in future]. They keep consistently scoring points. I’m not sure from how far off they are in the constructors’ or drivers’ at the moment but sometimes to have more cars in play is a good thing, sometimes it might be a bad thing. But I think for the fans it’s great to have six cars competing for victories.”
Mercedes could take points off the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari in future races but it has tended to be the Scuderia that has failed to capitalize on its opportunities so far this season, although Horner takes no comfort from that.
“Not really, we’re not too focused on them. We can’t control or contribute to that in any way. We have to focus on ourselves and just getting the best out of our own package. They had a very strong car (in Austria), could well have finished first and second…”
Carlos Sainz’s power unit issue when well-placed in Austria limited the damage for Red Bull after Sergio Perez was forced to retire due to car damage, and despite the Mexican dropping 57 points behind Max Verstappen, Horner believes both drivers remain in the title race.
“We’re only just at the halfway point of the championship and things swing around quite a lot. There’s still an awfully long way to go. It’s frustrating obviously from a constructors’ position, but Ferrari had its own issue.”