July 23, 2024

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion, has been passed over after a poor start, and Christian Horner has identified Red Bull as their “closest competitor” for this season.

After Ferrari’s strong showing in Suzuka, Christian Horner has acknowledged Red Bull believes the Italian team will be their “closest competitor” in the forthcoming Chinese Grand Prix.

The Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month saw both Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc make significant progress, finishing third and fourth, respectively, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez secured an outstanding 1-2 finish.

Furthermore, considering Mercedes’ dismal start to the new season, which has seen neither George Russell nor seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton secure a podium finish, Horner understandably ignored Hamilton when discussing who could challenge Red Bull in China.

We expect Ferrari to be our closest rival there in China, Horner said. “Yeah, I think that Ferrari at that circuit [Melbourne] were definitely competitive, and we saw on Friday that their race pace was competitive.”

“The circuit is good. The first corner never ends, and the front left tire always suffers greatly from it as well as the high-speed turns onto the back street. There is also a sprint race, the first of the year, which presents another difficulty.

“It will be interesting to see how that goes, as there are a lot of points available.” Hamilton, on the other hand, laments Mercedes’ “awful” approach in Japan and is eager to make some significant progress as he travels to Shanghai.

After placing ninth, Hamilton said, “There were two really terrible [sets of] hard tyres to run through.” “Today was really difficult. When Charles came around the outside at the beginning, I believe I suffered some minor injuries.

“During the first stint, I had severe understeer and was unable to turn the car.” The medium tire performed significantly better than the hard one. Though the car wasn’t great today overall, we should have kept two medium tires in retrospect.

Toto Wolff, though, believed that Mercedes’ lackluster performance was only the result of their “atrocious” opening laps. “After an awful first stint, we would have been racing for a podium, but the second and third stints were incredibly fast. We must ascertain what it was,” he uttered.

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