Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Red Bull dominance could end at Mercedes “stronghold” – Horner

2021 British Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner expects a fightback from championship rivals Mercedes at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

While his team have won the last five races in a row, Horner expects Silverstone will be a strong venue for Mercedes.

“It’s been a really dominant couple of weekends for us,” said Horner after Max Verstappen scored his third consecutive win in the Austrian Grand Prix. “[But] I know now we head to a circuit that has been really very much a Mercedes stronghold for the last seven years.”

Mercedes has won seven of the last nine F1 races at Silverstone. However they and Red Bull shared the spoils in the two events held at the circuit last year: Verstappen won the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix held one week after Lewis Hamilton’s British Grand prix victory.

“Obviously Mercedes have been enormously strong there over the years and Lewis will have the benefit of home support as well so we expect it to be a big challenge,” said Horner.

While Mercedes has credited Red Bull’s recent gains to performance upgrades on their car, Horner indicated changes to the set-up are key to their increased advantage.

“It’s going to be fascinating to see if we can take this form into what is our next home race,” he said. “We’ve certainly found a good working window with the car over the last few races and I think that hopefully we can work within that window at Silverstone.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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43 comments on “Red Bull dominance could end at Mercedes “stronghold” – Horner”

  1. The Honda PU is now slouch, it’s maybe the best on the grid, maybe not.

    Perhaps Mercedes just struggled to get a sweet set up at Austria.

    Maybe Norris will get a pole position?

    …..It’s fantastic that we’ll be entering a Formula Race Weekend with a load of “maybes”, and “possiblies”. The last few seasons have seen fairly predictable Qualifying and Races in terms of the front runners but now we finally have a season where you simply don’t know!

    (And then there’s the Saturday Sprint race too – this could be a weekend of surprises).

    1. Yes, a lot of maybes are good, mercedes could be the best car at silverstone, red bull could, and with norris getting so close in austria you never know, if a top team slumps he might be there.

    2. Can predict ferrari should go badly though, based on the layout!

      1. Ah yes. Italians on British soil, surely they’ll struggle to score a point

    3. huh no , Norris will not get pole. The track was so short that there was no leveling among the drivers. It was an aberration and now we get back to normal boring f1, with the mercedes deception of being the underdog, until they win everything.

    4. @geekzilla9000 It’s annoying to think that should Norris get pole position, or even front row, he will completely lose the advantage because of the sprint race.

    5. @geekzilla9000 Couldn’t agree more! This weekend seems pivotal for the championship and we have no way of knowing how it’s going to play out. Exciting times!

  2. Yes, Mercedes have been very strong on the Silverstone circuit in the recent past, but the same was true for Circuit Paul Ricard, and look what happened.

    1. That was rather close and that is what i expect for Silverstone too.

    2. @jerejj add to that the fact that no team will get much time to adjust their set up because of the sprint race limiting them to a single 1 hour practice and I don’t expect much from Mercedes at all.

      No chance to bed in any new parts so I think we can safely assume they’ll be on the back foot and behind RBR.

      If they’re within 2 tenths I’d be greatly surprised – I expect them to be about 1/2 second off RBR in Qualifying 1.

      1. I think this is surprisingly red bull-optimist, I expect them to be evenly matched because on one hand silverstone is a real hunting ground for hamilton, but on other hand red bull had the biggest advantage in quali this year, not in race pace on average.

    3. Well they were fastest in France to be fair

      1. Agree, france was a typical red bull fastest in quali and merc in race pace, merc sort of threw away the win with bad strategy, ending up behind verstappen.

      2. Exactly guys, the Mercs should have won in France.

    4. I suspect it will be very close, and we have the hardest tyres this weekend, which Mercedes seem to favour, although with the new construction it could be who understands them quickest will reap the rewards.
      And that has to be coupled to the new format – will Mercedes and Red Bull use a set of softs in FP1 to understand them for qualifying and sprint race? Or concentrate on the race set up, likely setting up on mediums and hards? I can see Bottas and Perez testing a set of softs, with Verstappen and Hamilton concentrating on the harder tyre set up.

  3. Definitely the key weekend to figure out if Max is going to run away with this or whether we have been witnessing another 2017 2019.

  4. I feel that Red Bull now has the better car, but not by much. The dominance is exaggerated by the fact that we had 2 straight races at the Red Bull Ring, a track where Red Bull normally excels. Apart from these two races, the season has been really close so far.

    1. Yes, and monaco and baku, people seem to forget how many red bull favouring races we had recently.

      1. To be fair there was one Merc close in each of those too- one driver in each underperformed

        1. While everyone should know that I don’t really get caught out by wolff’s underdog narrative, and can see through his lies, so I rarely talk down mercedes’ speed, there are a few things I noticed that make me say mercedes was on the back foot in those street tracks.

          At monaco obviously hamilton underperformed, but to me in qualifying ferrari looked quickest, because ofc verstappen was improving, but sainz showed there was the potential to do at least 70 milliseconds better than leclerc did, only had a bad last sector, and bottas seemed slightly further behind, there wasn’t much between them, probably 1 tenth between ferrari and red bull and then another tenth to mercedes, but there was.

          Then in the race bottas, before his own issue, seemed to be struggling to go faster than sainz, which makes me think red bull > ferrari > merc was the race order, maybe an in-form hamilton would’ve made things look different in the race.

          As for baku, obviously bottas was nowhere, hamilton however was superb up until verstappen’s tyre problem, and from what I saw in qualifying he got the most out of the car with 2nd place when ferrari again looked quickest and red bull 2nd, so on paper not only leclerc but also verstappen and sainz could’ve been in front of him (not perez cause you know how he is in quali), and hamilton also gained a lot in the last sector with an unusual trajectory, and then in the race it was evident to me that red bull had more race pace, both red bull drivers managed to jump hamilton in the pits, perez with the same pit stop problem as him, and then he managed to keep him behind for what would’ve been all race if it hadn’t been stopped, although he was close sometimes.

          To me if mercedes had been up there with red bull, hamilton would’ve passed perez, or would’ve struggled significantly less.

      2. With Bottas being just 0.025 shy of Max’ best time in Monaco, we can’t talk about Monaco suiting one car better than the other. While, if I’m not mistaken Lewis pitstop in Baku lasted far to long and he threw away a win himself.

        1. Hamilton’s potential win in baku wasn’t on pace, and perez had the same issue hamilton had, still jumped him. Take away verstappen’s tyre issue and it’s a red bull 1-2.

  5. Will be interesting to see if Mercedes can take some wing off like Red Bull and still do ok since there’s mostly fast corners.

    1. @balue True, unless RBR can take off even more.

  6. The time has come for Horner to play Toto’s trump card, “We are the underdogs!”

    Reply moderated
  7. Funny to see how Horner confirms it THEM being the team on the top of the pile currently by doing exactly what Mercedes was doing when they were on top – trying to exclaim how the others will make it hard for the team to win without any trouble!

    1. The main difference is Horner does not try to claim a Toto Wolff special underdog position.

      1. He’s literally doing it right here.

        1. There’s a big difference here to the typical TW speak. CH starts by admitting they’ve dominated the last couple of races, a fact. Then he states that Silverstone has been a Mercedes stronghold for the last seven years, a fact. And LH has his home crowd there. He then admits that they do seem to have found a nice performance window for their car so they are hopeful that translates to Silverstone. I see nothing phoney whatsoever in what he is saying. TW does his type of talk coming off seasons of domination, win after win, whereas CH has only a handful of races in this position in this era, and is only being realistic.

          Just as an interesting aside, to me at least. When Jacques Villeneuve was asked back when he first raced in F1 at his home track, even named after his Dad, with his home crowd, if that would be good for an extra tenth or two, he simply said no, that would mean he wasn’t trying hard enough at the other tracks.

          1. Indeed, that’s what I keep seeing, realism and honesty from verstappen, horner and marko, and lies and dishonesty and sandbagging from basically all involved in mercedes except that james, the strategist, there’s several james in merc, so not sure if it’s allison.

  8. Mercedes has easily the best engine hands down, but redbull has the best underfloor/aero package. Meaning they can extract a whole lot more speed from the car by using less windg, less drag. They gain their downforce from the floor and blown diffusor (blown as in utilising the rear brake ducts)

    1. I think that does a disservice to Honda. They seem on par with Merc now, with RB even quicker when able to run less wing than the Mercs.

      1. @john-h Yeah I agree, or at least the Honda pu is very very close, but to say Mercedes’ is better ‘hands down’ is I think overstating it. But of course Mac and Williams particularly seem to be really enjoying it this season so I can see why it appears to still be the best. Then again, Gasly has been no slouch with his Honda car either. Yeah ‘hands down’ doesn’t seem right.

      2. I’m not sure as early races Mercedes was on pace even with the wing difference, speaking of a more powerful engine @john-h @cdfemke

  9. Cant see it myself, Redbull are gonna romp away with both titles with races to spare.

  10. Both Horner and Wolff are getting so tedious with this hyperbole. It’s not a stronghold since 2020, indeed Red Bull won the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix as stated with an inferior car to this year’s machine. All these playing down comments are so boring from mostly Wolff but now Horner.

    1. @john-h Sure but as I claim above CH is being much more realistic and factual with what he is saying. While Max did win one of the two Silverstone races last year, with Mercedes having quite a bit of tire deg issues, the fact is LH and VB had the pole positions at the two races, LH lead one race flag to flag, and when Max won the two Mercs were second and third. And then as CH says there is the fact that Merc has dominated at Silverstone for seven seasons, but for the one out of eight races there that Max won. There’s lots of evidence to suggest CH is right to be wary of Mercedes at this track and at the same time he is right to say they themselves have found a nice performance window with their car too. I really doubt CH already feels to be in the same position as TW has been with the playing down comments, and rather CH is just laying out the facts.

      1. Indeed @robbie but he isn’t being factual, it wasn’t a stronghold last year for the reasons around tyres as you rightly point out. To me as with Barcelona, I think we’re going to see a close race with Mercedes just having the edge similar to last year, but Mercedes “stronghold”? Come on, it really isn’t anymore and I’m sure Christian knows it.

        1. @john-h No you’re right that the tide may have changed, but in fairness to CH he does say ‘over the last seven years’ etc, but yeah for sure there seems little reason to think it won’t be very tight this weekend. Perhaps we can say, if Max wins this weekend, it isn’t their stronghold any more, but CH saying it has been, and with you admitting Merc may still have an edge, does support why CH isn’t just assuming their only very recent domination will hold this weekend.

          On that note I do have to say I have never been all that bugged by TW’s downplaying of their domination, and exaggerating the potency of the competition, all the while practically winning everything in sight. I think while perhaps that gets a bit much and can be eye-roll worthy, at the same time nobody likes to have it (domination) thrown in their faces, and having a winner (let alone a serial winner) come off as braggadocious. As much as it may seem phoney, I think it better for a TW to come off as something closer to respecting of the competition, than to dis them by pounding their owns chest. That gets just as old, even quicker I think.

        2. I would say by mercedes stronghold I mean a track where they’re relatively strong, just like monaco and singapore are usually bogus tracks for them, so red bull being particularly strong this year they can win, but the stronghold term basically means they won’t be as dominant as in austria and will probably be very competitive.

      2. I think you’re forgetting about the silverstone 2018 race, where hamilton got spun by raikkonen and recovered from not sure if last to 2nd, merc looked like the best car in the race and ferrari slightly in quali, but vettel won because of hamilton’s problem.

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