Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are on course to win together, their fifth consecutive double championship since 2017. The experienced pair faced the challenge of Ferrari in 2017 and 2018, but looked to have the upper hand in performance in 2019 and 2020.
In the context of the 2021 season however, it looks to be a two-horse race with Red Bull, as the latter has started the year very strongly. At the end of the pre-season testing, they seemed set to end the dominance of the Silver Arrows squad. Yet, despite their trying pre-season testing, the Brackley-based has managed to catch up the lost ground. Several analyzes report that the cars are now too close in pure performance to determine which one is the fastest, and the difference between winning or losing will come down to the tiniest of margins.
As things stand now, Lewis Hamilton is leading the championship with three wins to one for Max Verstappen. Both of them, as they fight each other hard, have made mistakes, some more costly than the others.
Ahead of last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, Hamilton highlighted Verstappen's errors, saying Mercedes couldn't "continue to rely on mistakes from others". But Christian Horner — Red Bull’s team principal — is adamant these comments have no impact on his driver.
"Max will do his talking on the track." Horner told ESPN.
For the British team boss, Hamilton has also made errors, but got away with it thanks to a well-timed red flag in Imola.
"Lewis has demonstrated he's capable of, excuse my French, dropping a b****** occasionally.”
"He's capable of making a significant mistake as we saw in Imola, and he just got very lucky that he wasn't a lap down and didn't pay a bigger price for it.”
Horner stated that it was still too early in the championship to feel the pressure, but insisted that no title contender is immune to errors.
"Look, they can all make mistakes and we're at the non-pressured stage of the championship at the moment. As we get to the business end it will count for more.”
"When five races are left and if there is still the points difference that there is now, that's when the pressure mounts up, not at this stage."
Asked if Verstappen was at a disadvantage compared to Hamilton due to his lack of experience, Horner asserted that Verstappen's relative inexperience could be compensated by the bravery peculiar to youth, as he believes the Dutchman will soak up the pressure and perform well.
"I think he's got that youthful bravado; he's got nothing to lose.”
"Every big pressure point in his career I've seen him deal with previously, he's stepped up to the plate tremendously well.”
"I've got no doubt he'll be able to deal with it should the opportunity come."
Mercedes is keen to label itself as the hunters rather than the hunted in the title battle, but Horner said he was already tired of questions about who is the favourite ahead of each round.
"[Those statements] don't have any impact on the team at all," he said.
"Lewis is a multiple world champion and Mercedes are the reigning seven-time world champions.
"I think far too much has been made of who the favourite is. Go to the bookies if you want to see who the favourite is."