Max Verstappen makes Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton prediction

Red Bull won the 2022 Constructors' Championship by 205 points, with Ferrari and Mercedes having come a distant second and third.

Double World Champion Max Verstappen has labelled Mercedes as Red Bull’s “main rival” for 2023, despite Ferrari having been their biggest competitor last season and having also enjoyed a successful winter break.

Verstappen’s 2022 dominance is unlikely to be replicated in the forthcoming season, with most expecting Mercedes and Ferrari to be considerably stronger than they were last year.

Fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of seeing Mercedes at the front again, as it’ll likely mean that Verstappen against Lewis Hamilton will be seen once again.

The duo’s only real encounter in 2022 was when they collided with each other at the Brazilian Grand Prix, somewhat reminiscent of their 2021 title battle.

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As well as that, the Silver Arrows will be keen to get their crown back from Red Bull, having won the Constructors’ Championship every season from 2014-2021.

Verstappen is expecting Mercedes to be back in 2023 after their woeful 2022 campaign, with the Dutchman having recognised that the Germans started to show some impressive form towards the latter stages of last season.

“I think even at the end of the year it looked like sometimes they [Mercedes] had it together, and sometimes not,” said the Dutchman.

“So, from my side, it’s difficult to say because I’m not part of the team, but I guess we’ll find out this year.

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“If they fully understand everything they wanted to improve on the car, of course, they will be our main rival,” Verstappen said of Mercedes’ title credentials.

Verstappen is also expecting Ferrari to be “strong” but is unsure just how good the Italians will be, given that they are now under new leadership.

The 25-year-old really does seem certain that it’s Mercedes that they’ll be against, something which could actually work in Ferrari’s favour should people not expect them to be at the front.

Whether its Mercedes or Ferrari that they’re battling, though, Verstappen has full confidence in his team at Milton Keynes that they can once again give him a competitive car, allowing the Dutchman to challenge for a third consecutive Drivers’ Championship.

“I think Ferrari will be strong – but how strong is difficult to say,” said Verstappen.

“But Mercedes have shown of course over the last few years that they’ve been really, really, really strong, but they have a good group of people as well.

“But I trust in my people at Milton Keynes that they can build a very strong car together with an engine as well. I hope that we again have a strong package against them.”

Given that he claimed a record-breaking 15 wins and 454 points last year, it’s difficult not to label Verstappen as the title favourite; however, the driver himself isn’t currently thinking about whether he’ll be in the title fight or not due to wanting to see how the grid looks first.

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“We work hard as a team to try and make sure that we have a chance to fight for it again but only time will tell, right?” Verstappen added.

“I’m not even thinking about these things at the moment – because it’s more important to focus on just having a competitive car, and if we have a competitive car these things can happen.

“But it’s more important to make sure the car is running well, has no issues, and is quick at the end of the day.”