Max Verstappen admits he is expecting the Monaco Grand Prix weekend to be more difficult for Red Bull compared to the opening rounds of the campaign.
The Milton Keynes-based squad has enjoyed a phenomenal start to the 2023 campaign, winning all five races staged so far.
It has already built a significant lead in the Constructors’ Championship, while Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez sit first and second respectively in the Drivers’ standings.
Red Bull’s RB19 car has been largely unchallenged this year, however it was beaten to pole position in Baku by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Although it has won out in every other pole position battle so far in 2023, Red Bull’s advantage in qualifying has been evidently less than in the races.
And with Monaco possessing arguably the most important qualifying outing of the year due to the overtaking difficulty around the track, Verstappen has suggested that the competition will be closer this time around.
“I think it’s gonna be a little bit more difficult and closer together,” he said. “But we still have a good car, just trying to extract the most out of it.
“We know that over one lap it’s normally not our strongest point, but nevertheless, we still took quite a few pole positions this year, you know, so it’s still all possible.
“But, for sure, here in Monaco can always be quite a surprise.”
When asked who he expects a challenge from, Verstappen said: “I think naturally maybe Charles, Ferrari in general.
“I mean Carlos [Sainz] is also pretty handy around here. But also I think Aston Martin, they’re quite good in the low speed and in general they haven’t been as efficient on the straight so I guess here I think they can be in the fight too.”
Mercedes, who has started the 2023 campaign on the backfoot, is introducing its first significant upgrade of the year in Monaco.
However, Verstappen is coy over its prospects for the weekend amid a series of changes on the car.
“It’s really difficult to tell [where Mercedes will place], I think for them as well as for us to understand the whole new concept,” he said.
“I don’t know where it’s going to put them.”
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