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Horner: Surprised to see Mercedes sticking with concepts that failed

Horner: Surprised to see Mercedes sticking with concepts that failed

Horner: Surprised to see Mercedes sticking with concepts that failed

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s team boss, expressed his surprise when he saw Mercedes turn up to the 2023 Formula 1 season with the same car concept from 2022.

Mercedes and Red Bull took the F1 Title fight back in 2021 down to the wire, a season long battle concluded in the final race of the season, the controversial 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

However, with the new “ground effect” aero rules coming into effect in 2022, it was basically a start from scratch for every team, with Mercedes turning heads with their “zeropod” concept on their silver W13.

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But as it turned out, the W13 was a bouncing death trap that left Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in need of back therapy, the former quite vocal in his criticism of the concept.

However, Mercedes opted not to listen to their seven-time F1 Champion and soldiered on with the slim sidepods concept for 2023 which turned out to be a major mistake, something they admitted early on in the season, did some technical shakeups within the team – Mike Elliott out and James Allison back in the driver’s seat.

Horner, speaking in an interview with Motorsport.com, admitted he was puzzled with Mercedes’ decision to keep the concept for 2023.

He said: “We were very surprised to see Mercedes sticking with the concepts that had clearly failed the previous year.”

Another surprise for Horner was Ferrari’s failure in 2023 to sustain the challenge they mounted against Red Bull in 2022.

Ferrari and Mercedes took their time before copying Red Bull’s concept

mercedes vs ferrari abu dhabi gp f1tv grab

And while both Ferrari and Mercedes both switched to the same concept as Red Bull, the did that midseason in 2023 while others like Aston Martin and McLaren did that early on, the former being the sole challenger for the energy drinks outfit at the start of 2023.

“I think what surprised us was that Ferrari had a very good car last year. And the natural evolution of that we expected it to be a very tight contender this year,” Horner commented.

“If you looked around the cars in pre-season, the cars that were closest in concept to us were the Aston Martin and McLaren,” he added.

Horner said Red Bull knew the RB19 was a great car, but were cautious following the season opener in Bahrain, and it was only in Melbourne were they felt would be able to defend their Titles.

He explained: “Certainly, coming out of Bahrain, we felt like, ‘we’ve got a really good package here’. But we didn’t know whether it was circuit specific – temperature, conditions, asphalt.

“So, it’s only when you’ve had a sample of two or three and you’ve gone to a couple of circuits that have been more troublesome, certainly for us the previous year, like Melbourne for example, that suddenly you’re thinking, ‘ok, no, this is really together’.

“And so yeah, it takes a sample of a few races to get a clear overview. Nobody was coming out of Bahrain getting too carried away,” Horner insisted.

As it turned out, Red Bull won all races but one in 2023, the Singapore Grand Prix which saw Carlos Sainz take an impressive victory for Ferrari.