Horner expects 'marginal gains and reliability' to tilt title chase

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Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes the outcome of this year's title fight with arch-rival Mercedes will likely be determined by "marginal gains" and reliability issues.

Red Bull and Mercedes have already isolated themselves at the head of the field, with F1's front-runners splitting top honours in the first two rounds of the 2021 F1 world championship, and Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen trading places on the top step of the podium.

Although Hamilton came out on top in Bahrain, Red Bull had the faster car overall as Mercedes struggled for outright pace.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B. 18.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola,

"It’s all going to be about marginal gains," said Christian Horner. "It’s going to be about who can develop the car effectively within the budget cap.

"It’s going to be about reliability, it’s going to be about operational incremental gains, it’s going to be about human performance and it’s going to be about the drivers.

"That’s what it should be about fundamentally, the two best drivers in the sport going head-to-head."

Mercedes entered the first round on the back foot with a car that has been negatively impacted by this year's new aero rules compared to its Red Bull counterpart.

But the Brackley squad has started crawling back its deficit, and Horner expects the fight between the two teams to gain in intensity as the championship unfolds, if Red Bull can hold its own.

"I certainly hope we can sustain this level of performance," added the Briton. "Mercedes, you can see the progress they’ve made since a difficult start in the Bahrain test.

"They’re in good shape and they’re not standing still. We need to keep pushing, trying to find performance and try to make sure we have perfect weekends."

Looking ahead, Horner believes there will be circuits where "there will be strengths and weaknesses that probably play to both teams".

"We’re only on race two and there’s such a long way to go that it’s going to be approximately four races that we’ll get a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams and cars, concluded the Red Bull team boss.

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