Toto Wolff was too quick to dismiss the chances of any other driver winning the championship this year after Max Verstappen started being challenged more regularly, according to Christian Horner.

Verstappen comfortably won three of the first four races this season, leading Wolff to state that “No one is going to catch Max this year … basically this season now is best of the rest” after the Japanese Grand Prix. However, with Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris both winning since then and putting pressure on Verstappen at multiple races, Horner believes the Mercedes team principal’s claim was premature.

“Yeah, I think so, perhaps not with Mercedes, but I think Ferrari and McLaren certainly look competitive, they cannot be discounted,” Horner said. “It’s a long, long championship and obviously they’ve taken a reasonable chunk of points .

“I didn’t really understand Mercedes’ race, it was a hugely conservative race by George , to give up so much time and then go so fast at the end of the race, it didn’t really make a lot of sense, but I don’t think it would’ve changed…they weren’t going to overtake anybody, it was just a very defeatist race to try and defend fifth.”

Russell’s drive to fifth held Verstappen to sixth place in Monaco, allowing Leclerc to close the gap in the drivers’ championship to 31 points, and with Sergio Perez not scoring Ferrari also moved within 24 points of Red Bull in the constructors’ standings.

“Obviously, we need to make sure that we have got both cars up there scoring points, because we cannot dismiss the threat of Ferrari and McLaren in both championships.

“There’s a long way to go, we’ve never taken anything for granted in the championship. is won on a Saturday and obviously we had a poor day. To understand what the issues were with the ride and curbs we’ve got a huge amount of data now to go away and look at and look to address for the upcoming races.”

Horner says the source of Red Bull’s struggles with curb-riding in Imola and Monaco needs to be clearly identified before the team can try and resolve it, suggesting it is unlikely it would be completely eradicated in Canada.

“First of all, it’s understanding what the issue is. I think once we’ve done that, then you can look at what the relevant fix is. It’s a continual process, you’re into the law of diminishing returns and your focus changes depending what your problems are so I think quite a lot of focus will now happen on why have we had these ride issues why is the car struggling on the curbs.

“The VCARB car is running with our suspension from last year, it didn’t seem to have the same issues, so we need to understand if it is something we have introduced.”