Red Bull claim Mercedes remain 2020 favourites as Honda question raised

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Red Bull has declared Mercedes as favourites ahead of an expected duel between the two teams for the 2020 Formula 1 title. 

Over seven months since the checkered flag dropped in Abu Dhabi, the new season finally commences next weekend with back-to-back races in Austria followed by a trip to Hungary to complete the first triple-header.

Ahead of the team's home race, Red Bull took the RB16 to Silverstone to practice F1's coronavirus measures, but only Alex Albon stepped was present as Max Verstappen remained at home to avoid the current 14-day quarantine currently imposed on travellers into the UK.

Even so, it is the Dutchman that will lead the team's charge against Mercedes and team boss Christian Horner is itching to see how they shape up.

"We're now entering our second year with Honda and there's a great atmosphere within the team," he told Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport.

Honda F1

Also Read:

"For now, however, Mercedes is still the favourite. Lewis Hamilton had a strong winter and is, of course, the reigning world champion, he is simply the favourite.

"But, I do think we have a good car, we perform constantly and Max drives better than I've ever seen," the Briton suggested.

"It really feels like we're best prepared for a season in the V6 era. I sincerely hope we can fight with Mercedes this year."

Despite limitations on development being introduced as a cost-saving measure, all teams are expected to bring car upgrades to the Red Bull Ring, and the hosts are no different.

“The car in Spielberg will not be the same as that which would have been driven in Melbourne,” Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko told Auto Motor und Sport.

“We brought the upgrade to the car that was planned for the fifth race in Barcelona and a second one now for Spielberg.

“Everything is based on CFD and wind tunnel so there is a certain uncertainty factor," he admitted. "You go to the third stage without knowing how the first and second update would have felt in practice.

“We just have to assume that the data is correct.”

But while most predict a duel between Hamilton and Verstappen for the title this year, former driver Mark Webber still has one doubt.

It will really be between him [Verstappen] and Lewis," the Australian also told Ziggo Sport this week.

“I don’t see anyone else who can be at that party. Ferrari won’t be there this year. There is no one else who can handle Lewis at the moment but Max.

“I have faith in Milton Keynes, in their aerodynamics and how they operate as a team. It’s just a question of whether Honda will be able to take on Mercedes for an entire season.

“They [Mercedes] probably still have a bit more power, then you can also drive with more downforce and just make your life a little easier."