Christian Horner has taken a thinly veiled dig at Mercedes claiming he remains surprised about their lack of performance in 2022. The Red Bull Racing team principal was expecting the Silver Arrows to again challenge for the title after dominating for the last eight seasons.

Mercedes and Red Bull battled it out until the final race of the 2021 campaign for both the Drivers' and Constructors' titles. Despite having new regulations introduced for the 2022 season, they were expected to remain the main title contenders yet again.

The Austrian team maintained their momentum, and have dominated the ongoing campaign, but Mercedes have struggled to keep pace. The Brackley-based team's unique "no side-pod" design that wowed onlookers when it was launched has failed to live up to expectations.

Christian Horner
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP

Ferrari emerged as Red Bull's main challengers as Mercedes struggled to match the pace set by the frontrunners. The Silver Arrows have made steady progress, but still remain outsiders for a race win owing to their deficit to Horner's team, who have won 12 out of the 16 races thus far.

The Briton admitted that Red Bull expected Mercedes to arrive into 2022 with a vengeance having been beaten to the Drivers' title last year. He also pointed to the reigning Constructors' champions making a huge cry about stopping development on the 2021 car to focus on the 2022 challenger well before the championship battle concluded.

"Yes, because they transitioned early, they made quite a noise about compromising last year's championship because of moving over very early to their 2022 car," Horner said, as quoted on Planet F1.

"We felt they would come back with a renewed vengeance for this year. So, quite remarkable that after the domination they have had for the last eight years that they have yet to win a grand prix in 2022."

Mercedes' aggressive design saw experts claiming the team had found the silver bullet, and were certain to blitz the rest of the grid. Horner has now revealed that his team were never concerned, and were certain that they had taken the right approach.

"The guys [here] were pretty convinced early on that they just didn't feel it would work within the architecture we had created. So there was an inner confidence that we'd picked the right route," the Red Bull chief added.

Lewis Hamilton
Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton was fourth in his struggling Mercedes Paul Crock/AFP