Verstappen: Mercedes, Ferrari ahead of RBR
20 March 2017 – Max Verstappen has admitted that Mercedes and Ferrari are both likely to be ahead of Red Bull when the 2017 season begins in Australia this weekend.
Mercedes and Ferrari led the way during the pre-season period, Mercedes racking up the most mileage and Ferrari posting the outright quickest lap time.
Red Bull, meanwhile, had a low-key winter, as it struggled for mileage, amid Renault's ERS-specific power unit gremlins, and clocked few rapid lap times.
Verstappen, although optimistic that Red Bull can ultimately be a contender this year, has cast doubt on the team turning up in Melbourne and fighting for honours.
"It is always hard to say who now has the better car, but it is very obvious that Ferrari is stronger than last year," Verstappen told his official website.
"Mercedes is always up there as well. I think that they are not showing their true potential. The past years that was also the case.
"For us, it's hard to say. Personally, I think that we aren't the best team yet, but we need to wait and see
"After qualifying in Australia we will be able to see how it is, based purely on speed. In any case, we are not heading off to Melbourne with the thought of being able to take pole.
"At this moment, I think that Ferrari and Mercedes will be at the front, but hopefully, like last year, we'll gradually get into a better rhythm.
"We can do better, compared to last year, albeit we need to work hard to achieve that."
Red Bull finished second to Mercedes in the 2016 standings, with Verstappen placing fifth overall, behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.