Horner: McLaren now weaker
Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes McLaren's 2013 aspirations have been weakened by the loss of Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes.
- Related Content
Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, where Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel secured his third straight world title, was Hamilton's last as a McLaren driver and marked the end of his 14-year working relationship with the Woking-based team.
McLaren have replaced Hamilton with Mexican Sergio Perez, who impressed at Sauber during 2012 but has yet to experience the scrutiny that comes with racing for one of Formula One's top teams.
McLaren have also retained the services of 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who won at Interlagos, and will be looking to again be in the title mix along with Red Bull and Ferrari.
But, speaking at a media event at the Red Bull factory in Milton Keynes, Horner believes the loss of 2008 champion Hamilton is a sizeable blow.
"I think McLaren is a weaker team without Lewis," said Horner, who has overseen three consecutive Constructors' Championship successes. "I think McLaren would admit that.
"Lewis is an outstanding driver and in Lewis and Jenson they had a hugely strong driver line-up."
But Horner was quick to point out he is not writing McLaren off, especially after the team won the final two races of the 2012 season.
"McLaren have had a great car this year and who's to say they won't have an even better one next year?" Horner said.
But the Red Bull chief is also backing Hamilton to have a major impact on the fortunes of Mercedes.
The German marque endured a rotten end to the 2012 season, with their downturn in performance coinciding with the announcement of Hamilton's move.
However, Horner does not expect the Silver Arrows to be in the doldrums for long with Hamilton around.
"Whichever team had taken Lewis, he would be an asset," said Horner.
"I'm sure he will naturally add performance to Mercedes next year."
Meanwhile, Horner also confirmed every member of the Red Bull team would be given a £10,000 bonus as a reward for winning another constructors' title.
He said: "Every team member from the postman to the technical director will receive a bonus because of their hard work. It would probably be cheaper for us to finish second."