Verstappen: Red Bull would be "stupid" to think it's ahead of Mercedes

Max Verstappen thinks Red Bull would be "stupid" to think it is heading into this weekend’s Formula 1 season opener ahead of main rival Mercedes.

Verstappen: Red Bull would be "stupid" to think it's ahead of Mercedes

The Dutchman is coming out of an encouraging pre-season testing run for Red Bull, with its new RB16B having proven to be both quick and consistent.

His team’s form was in contrast to Mercedes, which had a more troubled run in Bahrain as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas battled with a poor balance on the W12 at times.

But although Red Bull is happy with the position it has found itself in, Verstappen is very cautious about its prospects against Mercedes as he is convinced the German manufacturer has not shown its true form.

“For sure the test was a positive start for us and you can always be happy when you get that number of laps in and get a good understanding of the car but it doesn’t say anything about pure performance,” he explained.

“I know people are excited and think we are just saying this, but Mercedes are still the favourites – how can they not be when they have won seven world championships in a row?

“I’m sure Mercedes also want people to think we are the favourites and put the pressure on us, but we are just focussed on ourselves. You can be sure that everyone in this team and at Honda is pushing to beat them and anyone else who may be quick this year.

“I see every season as a new opportunity to beat them, but we would be stupid to expect that fight to be easy and look at testing and think we are ahead.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

“I personally can't wait until we are all pushing in Q3. That is when you will see everyone at full power with low fuel and that is the time to see who developed performance wise, and then in the race we will see who can keep that performance over a race distance. Let’s hope we can be good at both.”

PLUS: How Red Bull won pre-season testing

Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez reckoned there was little point in Red Bull trying to calculate where it stacked up against Mercedes.

“I think the more you try to figure out what other people are doing the more lost you can get, so there isn’t a lot of point in reading into anything,” said the Mexican. “We just have to wait until qualifying and see where everyone is at.”

Read Also:

Verstappen reiterated that the RB16B showed no vices during its early running, which has lifted his own hopes that Red Bull should at least be able to put up a good fight.

“You can’t talk about proper limitations yet as we have only driven in hot conditions and every track needs different things, but I have a good feel for the car,” he said.

“From my side the car was stable enough to feel comfortable. There are always things to do better but we are always making improvements and that is what the engineers will do.”

shares
comments

Related video

The challenges Alpine faces with its no team boss approach

Previous article

The challenges Alpine faces with its no team boss approach

Next article

Why Schumacher is unburdened by Leclerc comparisons

Why Schumacher is unburdened by Leclerc comparisons
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Max Verstappen
Teams Red Bull Racing
Author Jonathan Noble
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Plus

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to STUART CODLING, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion

Formula 1
May 15, 2021
Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row? Plus

Does Aston have a case in F1 2021’s big technical row?

Aston Martin claims Formula 1’s latest technical tweaks have cost it competitiveness – and that it’s the innocent victim of a regulatory stitch-up aimed at pegging back Mercedes. But is any of this actually true? It depends on who you ask, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
May 14, 2021
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021