Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has reaffirmed his allegiance to the Austrian team amidst rumors of him replacing Mattia Binotto at Ferrari. Binotto left the Italian team last week after a disappointing 2022 season.
When asked if he was surprised by Binotto's decision to leave Ferrari, Horner told Sky Sports F1:
"Not really. It's obviously Ferrari's choice. I think it will be the sixth team principal I'll have sat opposite since I've been at Red Bull. My commitment is very much with the Red Bull team. I've been there since the beginning, and [I] obviously have a very close attachment."
Mattia Binotto's departure from Ferrari has left a team principal-sized hole in the Maranello-based squad. Christian Horner was reportedly one of the candidates to replace the Italian engineer, but the Briton has squashed any such rumors.
The Austrian team's boss has been with the Bulls since the team's inception and owes his allegiance only to them. Horner claimed he was not surprised by Binotto's resignation from Ferrari and reflected on the fact that the Scuderia have had a change of leadership more often than most other teams. Meanwhile, Horner and team had an extremely successful 2022, with his team dramatically taking both titles.
Red Bull expects Mercedes to be stronger than Ferrari in 2023
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko believes Mercedes will be a stronger opponent than Ferrari next season. In an interview with the German publication Bild, Marko was asked about his projections for next year - which rival would be the biggest challenge for the Austrian team. He promptly claimed that Mercedes would be a more significant challenge, given that the team could be seen rectifying issues throughout their failing season.
The Austrian and German teams were locked in an intense title battle in 2021, but the Silver Arrows failed to understand the 2022 regulations and hence were unable to challenge the Bulls in 2022. Mercedes drivers pushed the cars to rank higher throughout their lackluster season. This resulted in podium and pole finishes.
According to Helmut Marko:
"Ferrari is strong, but Mercedes will be stronger as a whole. Especially with a driver like Lewis Hamilton. He's still a top pilot. Although Ferrari also has a very good driver in Leclerc, he still makes mistakes."
Helmut Marko also believes Max Verstappen will be able to defend his title against Lewis Hamilton and the likes in 2023. He said:
"Unfortunately, I'm afraid not. Mercedes fought their way to us over the year. Although they are not yet at eye level, they have more time in the wind tunnel to develop the car. But I'm not too worried. We are on the right track for 2023 and with Max we have the best driver in the field."
Red Bull's battle with Mercedes and Ferrari will be exciting to watch next season. It remains to be seen if there will be any adverse effects of the team losing 10% of its development time for next season.