Verstappen not buying Mercedes games: 'They did the same last year'

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Max Verstappen isn't falling for Mercedes' claims that Red Bull start the 2021 Formula 1 season as favourites.

Anticipation is high that the Milton Keynes-based squad might finally have a car capable of challenging the domination of the German manufacturer this year.

This after Mercedes faced reliability and handling issues with their W12 car during pre-season testing two weeks ago.

However, while Red Bull admit they might be closer, when it comes to suggestions they are ahead, Verstappen thinks he's seen it all before.

"They are fast, no doubt," he told Ziggo Sport. "Of course they try to push us into the favourites role and then when they are up there again it's all genius!

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“They did the same last year at some of the races. On Friday they said, 'Red Bull looks very strong' but deep down I knew that wasn't the case. Then on Saturday, they’re there again and it's like, 'Oh, wonderful!’

“So I still see Mercedes as the favourite," he insisted. “For seven years in a row they’ve won everything, so I don't see myself as the favourite at all."

After a smooth pre-season test in the RB16B, however, Verstappen is keen to see where to see the two teams, and everyone else, stack up.

"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 added.

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"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, and 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."