Horner: Mercedes remain clear favourites

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner expects Mercedes to set the standard again next year despite the introduction of new regulations in Formula One.

Mercedes have dominated in the last three seasons, taking the constructors' crown on each occasion, with Lewis Hamilton winning back-to-back drivers' titles before Nico Rosberg dethroned his colleague last month.

Red Bull were the team to beat before Mercedes came to the fore, but Horner does not envisage different rules bringing about a changing of the guard in 2017.

He told Motorsport.com: "I think it is going to be tough to overcome Mercedes. They will go into next year as the clear favourites.

"They have won three consecutive world championships, and, whatever it is, 50-odd grands prix in the last three years.

"But we are hopeful that with, the new regulations, it should balance out the emphasis between chassis and engine. We are confident we should make a bit of progress over the winter with the engine.

"And I think the regulations are a clean sheet of paper for everybody. You don't know where you sit at the moment compared to your opposition.

"It is an opportunity and challenge that we are looking forward to, and it is only really when we get to Melbourne [that] we will get a glimpse of where the competitive ranking it," he added, referring to the opening race of the 2017 season in March.

"But for sure Mercedes will be going into the year as the firm favourites. We are just hopeful that we can close that gap so you haven't got predictable results every grand prix weekend."