Max Verstappen knows that expectations are high after the flawless test days he completed last week in Bahrain. The Limburger drove the fastest of all and was very pleased with his Red Bull.
“The test was a positive start, and I have an excellent feeling about the car. But Mercedes is still the favourite in my eyes. How could it be otherwise if you have won seven world titles in a row?”, Says the Dutchman on the eve of his seventh season in Formula 1.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is the opening race on Sunday. Lewis Hamilton then starts the hunt for his eighth world title, but the Briton experienced much less solid test days in Bahrain. The otherwise flawless Mercedes showed hitches, and the German racing stable admitted afterwards that Red Bull is in better shape.
“Of course I am happy that I was able to drive many laps during the test days and noticed that the car is stable and comfortable, but it does not say anything about the pure performance when it comes to it,” said Verstappen, who took two races and finished third in the championship.
“I know people are excited now and expect a little from us, but if you’ve been as dominant as Mercedes in the last seven years, that team might have some problems now. In my opinion, they are still good”, says the 23-year-old Verstappen, who has already scored ten Grand Prix victories in his career.
“I also think Mercedes likes to make people believe that we are the favourite and puts the pressure on us. We must not let ourselves be fooled and, above all, do our job well. Everyone in this team and everyone at our engine supplier Honda is doing everything they can to beat Mercedes.”
Because Verstappen was delighted with the test races in Bahrain, there are always things that could be improved. “I didn’t mind being in the car for a day and a half, and it was more important to drive a lot of miles and see that adjustments in the set-up were working.
But we do not yet know the real limits of the car, as we have now only driven in Bahrain in warm conditions, while each circuit has different requirements. But this circuit suits me well, and I also know that I have to perform right away to show that I want to compete for the world title.”