Verstappen responds to Mercedes mind games: ‘They actually always do that’

Mercedes do not appear confident of their chances of success ahead of the 2022 season, but Max Verstappen believes mind games could be at play.

Max Verstappen has rubbished Mercedes’ suggestions that they do not have the quickest car this season, agreeing with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz that this have become a regular tactic used by the Silver Arrows.

Mercedes completed 777 laps between the first test in Barcelona and the second in Bahrain, locking out the front two positions on the final day in Spain last month.

However, the Mercedes, like a few other cars on the grid, appeared to be a particular victim of adverse handling and the “porpoising” issue encountered under the new technical regulations, which sees significantly altered aerodynamics and lower ride heights due to the return of ground effect.

Ferrari looked particularly impressive, making regular appearances at the top of the timing sheets and putting 787 laps on the board between Sainz and team-mate Charles Leclerc.

It led George Russell to suggest that Ferrari are quicker than the Silver Arrows this year, with Sir Lewis Hamilton adding “Ferrari look to be the quickest, then perhaps Red Bull, and then maybe us or maybe McLaren, I don’t know. But we’re currently not at the top.”

Verstappen and Sergio Perez managed to go relatively under the radar over the six days of running – particularly favourable in gaining a competitive edge – and they put significantly less mileage into the car, achieving 677 laps.

However, the Dutchman topped the final day of running in Sakhir while Mercedes were insisting that their pace is not on par with that of Ferrari and Red Bull.

Verstappen is not convinced by these claims.

“They actually always do that,” he told

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“If a team does well at the test they say, ‘oh, we’re not favourites’. And then when things do go well, you hear: ‘we turned it around so well in a week, everyone at the factory worked hard…’ But last season Mercedes was also enormously strong after all.”

Dr Helmut Marko previously confirmed that Red Bull’s car would not be fully complete until the first race in Bahrain this week, and the 24-year-old added that this season, under the new regulations, will be a development race.

“Of course we are working on that as well. I think that this season is not necessarily about how you are doing in the first three races, but the development phase you enter afterwards,” he explained.

“Everything is new anyway and you still have a lot to learn about the car. We just have to make sure we get faster throughout the season and find more things for on the car.”

Verstappen dramatically clinched his maiden F1 world title from Hamilton at the end of last year, and will be looking to defend his crown as the much-anticipated 2022 season finally kicks off this weekend.