McLaren boss agrees with Christian Horner on Red Bull’s Mercedes suspicion

McLaren boss Andrea Stella has agreed with Christian Horner’s theory that Mercedes will bounce back strong next season as the development race for 2024 intensifies. The Silver Arrows are enduring a difficult end to the current campaign.

Mercedes have been restricted to fighting for podiums with the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin and McLaren this season with Red Bull untouchable at the front of the field. The Brackley-based team did have a potentially race-winning car in Singapore but failed to maximise after losing out to Ferrari in qualifying.  

The W14 has looked unpredictable all season long with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both struggling to extract consistent performance from the package. At Suzuka – a track that is often an excellent benchmark for showing a car’s true performance – Mercedes were lagging behind McLaren and Ferrari.

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Stella, however, isn’t worried about Toto Wolff’s outfit. He said: “We don’t know whether we are developing faster than other teams. And above all, we don’t know whether we are developing faster than Red Bull. 

“And let’s not forget that Mercedes, I think they realised what they need to work on. And I suspect they’re going to jump back quite strongly. There are no factual elements at this stage to say this is the pecking order we’ll see next year. I think things can evolve.” 

These predictions line up with those of Horner, who also expects the Silver Arrows to fight back with their 2024 challenger. The Silver Arrows have confirmed that they are pursuing a vastly different design philosophy for the W15 after the failed ‘zeropod’ experiment that set the W14 on the back foot from the offset.

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Speaking to Sky Sports about Mercedes’ prospects moving forward, Horner explained: “For me, sport is about rivalry. It’s great to have rivalry. There has to be a respect, but sport isn’t sport without rivalry.

“Obviously we haven’t seen much of him the last couple of years but I’m sure he’s plotting. I’m sure he’s got something that they’re working on. They’re a great team. They are a big team. They have got great drivers. They’ll be looking to fight back.”

While Wolff will no doubt be looking ahead to the potential of a title fight in 2024, Mercedes must first see off the threat of Ferrari, who have closed to within 20 points of the Silver Arrows following solid outings in Singapore and Japan.

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