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2018 F1

For me, Max Verstappen is a champion – Christian Horner

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Red Bull should be able to take on Mercedes and Ferrari for the 2018 title.

That is the view of team boss Christian Horner, after his colleague Dr Helmut Marko this week played down Red Bull’s championship chances.

But as the temporary-liveried RB14 was revealed and shaken down on Monday, Horner said: “If we’ve learned the lessons of last year, and if reliability improves, then I see no reason why we shouldn’t be on par.”

Marko said this week that Red Bull’s great strength is its drivers, with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo very closely matched.

Horner said a championship for Dutchman Verstappen is “only a matter of time”.

“Sebastian Vettel won four titles for us before he was 30. Lewis did his four and is only 32. For me, Max is a champion.

“You can see which drivers are outstanding and Max is certainly one of them,” Horner is quoted by Speed Week.

Alongside Mercedes and Ferrari, Red Bull will have another benchmark in 2018 after McLaren switched to use the same customer Renault engines.

Horner said: “McLaren is a great team and we look forward to racing against them.

“But we made great progress especially in the second half of last season and we hope to take that momentum into 2018.

“The rules are more or less the same, so there are many lessons we can draw from 2017 with the development of our new car.”

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