F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes motorsport giants Ferrari will bounce back to compete at the top of the grid in 2022. Formula 1 is gearing up for its era-defining regulations to come in at the conclusion of this season.
Mercedes have dominated the turbo-hybrid era, winning each of the seven championships since the regulations were introduced in 2014.
Lewis Hamilton is locked in a battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to secure an eighth for the Silver Arrows.
Red Bull have been competitive during that time – particularly this current season – while Ferrari have had their moments, but both teams have ultimately been overwhelmed by the might of Mercedes.
However, the famous Italian outfit have struggled since 2020 after their power unit controversy.
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Ferrari have reportedly been investing in their 2022 car, which is promising as they have noticeably improved in 2021 to register two pole positions and three podiums.
Their performance thus far has seen them enter a battle with McLaren for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship – and Red Bull team principal Horner believes Ferrari will make the step up to achieve more wins next season.
“It’s a big team with two very good drivers [Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz] and I expect them to be a contender from next year,” Horner told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Their performance has improved, the engine too and they have a new power unit coming. They will be back.”
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With the new rules ready to take effect, the grid order next season could be wildly different than the current campaign with teams operating with a budget cap to develop the new cars.
Horner insisted there is no room for mistakes, as rectifying any errors would surely see the team at fault fall behind their rivals.
“You start from a blank sheet of paper, some might interpret the rules better than others,” he added. “It will be fascinating to watch the first part of next season.
“With the budget cap, if you take the wrong direction it is very difficult to recover. We mustn’t make mistakes.”
The new rules come into play next season, and they are followed soon after by the new power units set to arrive in 2026.
Motor giants Porsche and Audi are reportedly set to be involved in discussions to enter the sport – and Horner, whose Red Bull engine supplier Honda will leave the sport after the season, welcomed their interest.
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He believes engines help Formula 1 remain the pinnacle of motorsport.
Horner said: “It’s good that other big companies are interested in entering F1. It means this category is still attractive.
“Whereas in Formula E we see the opposite phenomenon, because many are leaving. Whatever engine we have in 2025/2026 has to sound good and entertain because F1 is about spectacle.
“Electric racing has not broken through. Grand Prix, on the contrary, must maintain a clear purpose.”
Formula 1 returns for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi on September 26, with Red Bull’s Verstappen holding a slender five-point lead over seven-time world champion Hamilton.
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