Christian Horner admits that he is expecting Mercedes to still play a role in the 2022 title battle, though also slipped in a slight dig at Toto Wolff while making the admission.
During the opening races of the campaign, Red Bull have found themselves in a close fight with Ferrari. This differs to 2021, where a particularly intense duel played out between Max Verstappen's team and Mercedes.
This battle - and the tensions off-track between respective team bosses Horner and Wolff - took the focus of much of the most recent series of Netflix's Drive to Survive.
Consequently, Horner was asked over the Miami Grand Prix weekend whether this narrative could be replaced for the next season of the show by a similar scenario unfolding between himself and Ferrari's Mattia Binotto.
"Well, Mattia's a nice guy. It's just a different kind of competition," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"But you're writing Toto off – we're only four races in, and his car was quickest [in Friday practice at Miami], so there's plenty of time for him to get himself back in the show."
How 2022 title battle differs to 2021
On a serious note, Horner added that he views the current championship fight between Red Bull and Ferrari as being more about the on-track action, rather than focusing on what is going on off it.
"I think we're very much focused on ourselves," the Team Principal explained.
"All nine teams are our competitors. Last year, there was a lot of needle. There was a lot going on off-track as well as on-track, whereas this year seems much more focused about what's going on on-track.
"I think the racing's been great, between Charles [Leclerc] and Max, and the first four races have been epic."
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Horner predicts that Mercedes will join fight
Whilst Mercedes were at the forefront of the championship battle in 2021, the team have so far endured a tough start to the current campaign.
The W13 has experienced issues including porpoising, and as such the Silver Arrows are not currently at the level of Ferrari and Red Bull.
However, Horner still expects the squad to make a comeback as the year progresses.
"If that [fight between Leclerc and Verstappen] continues through the season, inevitably it's going to boil over at some point as it gets more competitive, and the stakes get higher in the second half of the year," he said.
"But, certainly, what we've seen so far has been very respectful racing. Hard racing, but fair racing.
"And, as I said, I think you're going to see Mercedes joining that party fairly soon."
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