Red Bull boss Christian Horner has faith that Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will turn their nightmare start to the season around, adding that the team "can still be a factor in this championship."
Hamilton's challenging weekend at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was perhaps statistically his most difficult for 13 years, given that that is how long it has been since the seven-time World Champion last qualified and finished outside the top 10 on the same race weekend, at the 2009 German Grand Prix.
As a result, the 37-year-old is now 58 points behind leader Charles Leclerc in the Drivers' standings.
Horner's comments come after Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko joked that Hamilton may be wondering whether he should have retired following the 2021 season.
Hamilton has since appeared to hit back at those comments, taking to Instagram to write: "[I'm] working on my masterpiece, I'll be the one to decide when it's finished."
Horner: Mercedes will get that car sorted
Despite Hamilton having already ruled himself out of the title race in 2022, Horner is refusing to remove Mercedes from the list of teams Red Bull must beat to claim the big prizes this season.
"Lewis has had a horrible weekend [at Imola] but he hasn't forgotten how to drive. Only five races ago they were fighting for a World Championship," Horner told the F1 Nation podcast.
"They'll get that car sorted out and he can still be a factor in this championship, so we don't underestimate any of our opponents.
"All we can do is really focus on ourselves and try to ensure that we maximize the opportunities when we have them."
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Red Bull wary that 2022 season has "a long way to go"
Mercedes have time on their side to turn things around, says Horner, with 19 races to go before the final curtain falls in Abu Dhabi, meaning that there are 510 points still to fight for in the meantime.
"I said from the beginning, there's just such a long way to go in this championship and with big points weekends, we've got three of these weekends during the course of the year," Horner said, referring to the additional points on offer at a Sprint weekend.
"The championship will ebb and flow. The cars are very immature and it's going to be about who can develop the best, the most efficiently and effectively."
Mercedes will head to Miami 36 points being Red Bull in the Constructors' Standings, and 47 points behind Ferrari at the top.
F1 Podcast: Are Red Bull now favourites and has Hamilton hit a new low?
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Mike Seymour and Thomas Maher look back over the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Red Bull triumphed, Ferrari hit trouble and Mercedes struggled.