Max Verstappen said that if Red Bull were to believe beating Mercedes will be easy judging on testing, then that would be “stupid”.
With pre-season testing slashed to only three days for 2021, the last thing that teams could afford was any reliability issues.
And Mercedes endured a double whammy of gearbox issues and then also poor handling which left Sir Lewis Hamilton beached in the gravel.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said they have a “little diva” on their hands in the W12, while over at the Red Bull garage everything seems very positive.
Verstappen set the fastest time of testing, and the Honda engine looked both reliable and powerful.
But, Mercedes are coming into the new season looking for an eighth Drivers’ and Constructors’ title-double in a row, so Verstappen says it would be “stupid” for Red Bull to expect that this streak can be snapped easily.
“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 said, as quoted by GPFans.
“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 focused 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.
“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.
“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.”
— Red Bull Racing Honda (@redbullracing) March 22, 2021
“I have a good feel for the car, from my side, the car was stable enough to feel comfortable,” the Dutchman continued.
“There are always things to do better but we are always making improvements and that is what the engineers will do.
“Now I have to deliver and the team have to deliver so we can try and mount a title fight. We all know our roles. It’s time to see who has got what.”