Christian Horner believes Mercedes will be favourites at the Monaco Grand Prix and is expecting the reigning Formula 1 world champions to be “very strong” this weekend.

Red Bull dominated last year’s Monaco Grand Prix but Mercedes’ strong performance in the slow speed final sector of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya throughout the Spanish Grand Prix weekend has left its rivals concerned heading to Monte Carlo.

Mercedes has enjoyed its best-ever start to an F1 season after claiming five consecutive one-two finishes from the opening five rounds. 

“Certainly in Monaco if you look at their [Mercedes’] performance in the low-speed section of this circuit, you would expect them to be very strong in Monaco,” Horner said.

“So I think they’ll certainly be very much the favourites there and we will be trying our best to challenge them as best we can.

“You don’t achieve five one-two finishes without having the best car, so they for sure are the benchmark, they have the best car at the moment, and our job is to try and catch them.”

Red Bull has historically enjoyed strong performances in slow speed corners but Mercedes appears to have taken a significant step forward in 2019.

“I think a combination, I think Mercedes have done a very good job in extracting performance from the car in that part of the circuit,” Horner explained.

“I think we are not at our optimum yet in terms of where we would like to be with these new regulations and construction of tyre. But I think Spain was a step forward and hopefully more will follow.”

Max Verstappen conceded Red Bull’s car is not currently better “in any corner” compared to Mercedes and expects the German manufacturer to be strong once again in Monaco.

“I think at the moment we’re not really better in any corner than Mercedes,” he said.

“It’s not that it’s a bad car - but at the moment Mercedes is just a bit quicker than us everywhere.

“Medium speed, high speed is pretty similar I would say, but again, that depends on downforce levels you’re running every single weekend so it’s a bit difficult to say. Clearly in Spain they were very strong in the low-speed corners and that means it normally pretty good for Monaco as well.

“I think at the moment, looking at the low-speed performance in the last sector, we are clearly not the favourite and I also don’t expect it to be like last year when we were super strong in Monaco.”

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