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Red Bull boss Christian Horner feels rivals Mercedes have looked so strong in pre-season he fears they could win the opening Australian Grand Prix this Sunday by two clear laps.
Horner has endured a frustrating winter as the four-time reigning world champions have struggled to make their new RB10 car fast and reliable enough to feel confident going into competitive races.
In stark contracts Mercedes’ W05 has impressed throughout as the Brackley-based team appear to have mastered the requirements of Formula One’s new era of turbo engines and energy recovery systems.
As a result Horner can see nothing else but a comprehensive win for the Silver Arrows in Melbourne, while he is predicting that their British driver Lewis Hamilton will be the man to catch for the drivers’ championship this year.
“You could see a higher level of domination than we had last year,” he told The Daily Mail.
“Looking at Mercedes’ race simulation, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they finished two laps ahead of everyone in Melbourne. They have a massive advantage.
“What we know about Lewis is that he is extremely talented and naturally fast. And he’s in a good team, so he’s probably got to be the favourite going into the season.”
Horner is confident that Red Bull will eventually produce a competitive car but feels it could take until the season reaches Europe with May’s Spanish Grand Prix before real improvements will be seen.
He added: “We believe it is inherently a good car. I have every confidence in the team. There’s no panic. There are engineering solutions and there is no better set of engineers in the pit lane.”
Hamilton is 3.20 to win the 2014 World Drivers’ Championship, while he can be backed at 3.43 to win in Australia with The Field 1.32.