Max Verstappen has said that the McLaren F1 Team and the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team should not be considered as Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s main rivals in 2018 instead of front-runners Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari.
Despite a strong end to their 2017 campaign, Red Bull finished the season in third, 300 points behind constructors’ champions Mercedes and 154 points adrift of second placed Ferrari. With fellow Renault Sport powered teams McLaren and Renault expecting to improve on their 2017 seasons this year, many have suggested that they may trouble Red Bull for third spot, but Verstappen is adamant that the Milton Keynes team have higher aspirations than that.
“You pay attention to everybody, but I don’t think they will be our main rivals,” said Verstappen, speaking to Motorsport.com.
“And we don’t want that to be the case as well, because that would mean we are not doing such a good job. We need to look ahead.”
Red Bull showed promise in pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo recording the fifth fastest time across the two weeks, and topping the timing sheets on numerous days in the process.
Verstappen had no concerns over the team’s testing period, saying that the higher temperatures seen in the second test made for better running and understanding.
“Yeah, [I feel] quite good,” the Dutchman said. “Pretty relaxed. I do my own thing and we manage to do our laps.
“For sure [the second] week was better than [the first] week, in terms of temperatures and what you can learn from the car.
“I just do my thing and wait for Australia to come. I’m really looking forward to that now!”
However, Verstappen would refuse to be drawn into talking about his potential championship chances – having been one of the bookmakers’ favourites at the start of 2017.
“I think we just need to wait for the beginning of the season and see how things are going in the first few races.
“After that you can really quickly say if you can fight for the title or not, of course.”