F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has labelled Red Bull one of the favourites to challenge his team in the upcoming Formula One season. Mercedes are hoping to continue their dominance of the sport after defending champion Lewis Hamilton agreed a new one-year deal earlier this month.
However, Wolff believes the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez can rival Mercedes this year.
Speaking to Speed Week, Wolff said: “That is a very strong combination.
“Red Bull Racing has a strong driver line-up and had the fastest car at the end of the year.
“So they are definitely among the favourites in 2021, especially for the constructors’ championship.
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“I don’t see why they can’t compete for the title in both championships.”
However, Red Bull chief Christian Horner has played down the idea that they could challenge Mercedes, calling them “very much the favourites this year”.
Speaking to Autosport, Horner said: “We’ve seen one team be totally dominant for the last seven years.
“And with continuity going into this year of largely the car and drivers [being the same], on the Mercedes side you would expect them to be in a very strong position again.
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“But I hope by using the lessons we’ve learned from 2020, we can put a more sustained challenge to Mercedes, who will undoubtedly be incredibly strong and very much the favourites this year, particularly off the back of a car which was arguably their best car of the hybrid era.
“That will be quite a challenge for us, but one we are relishing.”
He added: “The Mercedes is quite a machine, but we’ve demonstrated that you can beat them by working hard, by applying yourself to the task in hand.
“I think they will be tremendously motivated because of that last race in Abu Dhabi, and I expect Toto [Wolff] has used that, and James Allison, to come up with an even more competitive car for this year.
“So we don’t in any way underestimate the might of Mercedes.
“Our objective is to take the lessons we learned in 2020 into 2021.
“And hopefully, the RB16B will be a good evolution.
“Mercedes are the clear favourites with seven consecutive titles, but we are excited about the challenge this season and won’t give up in our hunt for a fifth title.”
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