Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton say they expect Max Verstappen to be a threat at Formula 1’s Austrian Grand Prix, despite their one-lap pace advantage.
Mercedes has dominated the season-opening round at the Red Bull Ring with its W11 substantially quicker than the remainder of the field.
Bottas beat Hamilton by just 0.012s in the Q3 shootout while Verstappen was over half a second adrift in third position.
Verstappen claimed victory at the Austrian Grand Prix in both 2018 and 2019.
“For sure the race and the long runs are a different story, and we’ve seen many times that Red Bull has a good race car,” said Bottas.
“The race depends on so many different things and we haven’t been able to compare to the other teams in the longer runs, maybe just 10 laps or so.
“We’re not taking on anything with the mentality that it’s going to be easy for us, we’re prepared for threats from the other teams, not just from the two of us. That’s what we expect.”
Added Hamilton: “It’s going to be a close race, he’s on Medium tyres, a slightly different strategy and they’re very quick on race pace, so should be a lot closer I expect.”
Verstappen also indicated that Red Bull expects to be closer to Mercedes in race specification.
“I was not entirely happy with the balance, like, some corners were good, some were not, then the gap can be a bit bigger but half a second is still quite a decent gap,” he said.
“What can you say about it? We just need to work harder and try to close that.
“Maybe tomorrow is a bit warmer and that helps a bit, also in the race we’ve never been quickest over one lap in this track so hopefully in the race it comes a bit close.
“Still best of the rest is a good start into the season and we just have to work to close that gap.”