- Red Bull
Mercedes and Hamilton could win by two laps - Horner
Christian Horner believes Mercedes' advantage over the rest of the field is so big they could beat everybody by two laps in Australia, and insists Lewis Hamilton has to be considered favourite for the title.
Red Bull ended 2013 with nine consecutive victories, an incredible record of domination which made their pre-season struggles all the more notable. Despite what some have said during the winter, Horner does not believe the new season will be as level a playing field as has been suggested, and thinks Hamilton stands to benefit most from Mercedes' huge advantage.
"You could well see more of it [domination]," Horner said. "Perhaps not from us, but from Mercedes. If they were to finish two laps ahead of the opposition in Melbourne, that wouldn't be a surprise, based on what we've seen in pre-season testing. It's massive. What we know about Lewis is that he is extremely talented and naturally fast. And he's in a good team, so he's probably got to be the favourite going into the season.'
Despite the fact they are clearly playing catch up at this early stage of the season, Horner believes the Renault-powered teams can recover from a slow start.
"From what we can see at the moment, all the Mercedes powered teams are in pretty decent shape and we're not. We're on the back foot, and have a lot of ground to catch up. Adrian [Newey] and his technical have done an excellent job. We had some cooling issues early on, but we've worked hard to address those.
"The main bit we need to get on top of is with our engine partner. They [Renault] will catch up, they quite simply have to. We would hope by the time we arrive back in Europe that we're seeing significant improvements."