Red Bull chief Christian Horner believes Mercedes are still “clear favourites” to win the Formula One championship in 2017 (4/6 – Constructors Championship), despite new regulations coming into the sport.

The Silver Arrows have dominated F1 since the V6 engine era arrived at the start of the 2014 campaign having won the constructors champions for three successive years.

Lewis Hamilton has also won two drivers championship crowns in 2014 and 2015 and team-mate Nico Rosberg came out on top for Mercedes in 2016.

Rosberg has since quit the sport, while a new shake-up in F1 this year – the biggest since 2009 – will see cars with wider front and rear wings and bigger, wider Pirelli tyres.

Red Bull (6/4 – Constructors Championship) were the closest challengers to Mercedes last season and, while the new regulations might enable them to close the gap or even overhaul their rivals, Horner feels the Brackley-based German outfit will be expected to come out on top once again.

“It’s going to be tough to overcome Mercedes,” said Horner. “They go into the year as the clear favourites.

“They have won three consecutive world championships, they’ve won 50-odd Grands Prix in the last three years.

“We’re just hopeful we can close that gap so we don’t have predictable results every Grand Prix weekend.

“With the new regulations, it should balance out the emphasis between chassis and engine. We’re confident we should make a bit of progress over the winter with the engine.

“The regulations are a clean sheet of paper for everybody, so you don’t know where you sit at the moment compared to your opposition.

“It’s an opportunity or it’s a challenge we’re looking forward to but it’s only really when we get to Melbourne (Australian Grand Prix) that we’ll get a glimpse of where the competitive ranking is.”

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Odds subject to change.