Red Bull have the pace to beat Mercedes but Lewis Hamilton says they are second in the championships because they are “just making a lot of mistakes”.
Red Bull went into this season with many people, most from the Mercedes camp, talking them up as the team to beat after their impressive pre-season testing form.
But three races in and the Milton Keynes squad is second in both championships.
Max Verstappen trails Hamilton by eight points in the Drivers’ standings with Red Bull 18 behind Mercedes in the Constructors’.
Hamilton says that’s because they are making a “lot” of mistakes.
He told Sky F1: “I think they still have performance on us, they’re just making a lot of mistakes.
“And we can’t continue to rely on that to get the results we are getting.”
Verstappen lost the Bahrain win after running wide as he passed Hamilton late in the race, that cost him seven points.
He fought back to win at Imola only to again have track limits play a role in the outcome of his Portuguese weekend when he lost pole after exceeding the track limits at Turn 1.
A day later he lost the point for the fastest race lap by again running wide. That’s a minimum of eighth points, not predicting what he could have done had he started on pole at Portimao.
Hamilton says as a result of Verstappen’s errors, Mercedes are not entirely sure about what margin Red Bull have over them.
“It’s unknown to us, but in the last race if he finished the lap that got taken away from him, he would have been a couple of tenths ahead,” he added.
“Because of that mistake, it felt like they’ve come closer to us rather than us closer to them. There’s a lot of work to do.”
Verstappen downplayed his mistakes, pointing out that Hamilton crashed at Imola only to benefit from a red flag situation that allowed him to get back on the lead lap.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” he told Sky Germany. “Lewis made a mistake in Imola but was lucky with the red flag.
“We all drive at the limit and then sometimes you make some small mistakes.”
“In the end, we came second twice and won once. I think that’s not bad!”
He also denied that racing wheel-to-wheel with the seven-time World Champion had upped the pressure.
“No, normally not not from my side,” said the Red Bull driver. “I always try to get the best out of it. I think in the last few years I’ve always done that.”