Horner committed to Red Bull amid Ferrari links

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Christian Horner was not surprised to hear of Mattia Binotto's departure from Ferrari and rubbished speculation he would leave Red Bull to fill the vacancy.

Ferrari announced last week that Binotto had handed in his resignation as team principal after a frustrating season, where the team fell short of their objectives despite a fine start to the campaign.

An error-strewn year saw Charles Leclerc lose a 46-point advantage over Max Verstappen and Red Bull, eventually finishing a distant second-place to the two-time world champion.

Ferrari's hunt for a successor to Binotto has seen Horner linked with a move across the paddock but he affirmed his commitment to Red Bull.

Asked whether he was surprised by Binotto's exit, Horner told Sky Sports: "Not really. It is obviously Ferrari's choice.

"I think it will be the sixth team principal I have sat opposite since I've been at Red Bull. Obviously, it's very difficult for him. They had a great car this year, they were very competitive.

"My commitment is very much with the Red Bull team. I've been there since the beginning and have a really close attachment."

Verstappen will be looking to hand Red Bull a third consecutive drivers' championship in 2023, as well as retaining the constructors' championship, but Horner expects a tougher fight when the season begins in March – predicting Mercedes to be back near the top.

"Both those guys [Lewis Hamilton and George Russell] had great seasons. George finishing ahead of Lewis in his first year with the team was an impressive performance but Lewis is obviously still right there," Horner added.

"You've got to assume they're going to come back fighting hard next year, Ferrari as well will be looking to make progress, so it's set to be a really tough season."

Red Bull will also have to cope with the penalty issued for breaching Formula One's budget cap, resulting in a reduction of time allowance in the wind tunnel.

However, with development of the 2023 car already well underway before the punishment was issued, it is expected that the biggest impact from the penalty will be felt in 2024.