F1: Red Bull's Verstappen gets in shape for new season
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Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull will pose a threat to Mercedes in the upcoming Formula One season, claiming they look like “a different animal this year”. Hamilton is hoping to win a record eighth world title this year after signing a new one-year deal with Mercedes in February.
Teams have been testing their new cars in Bahrain ahead of the first Grand Prix later this month.
Red Bull have had a particularly strong three days of testing, with Max Verstappen setting the fastest lap time on Sunday.
Verstappen will be partnered by Sergio Perez this season and the Mexican driver earned his first race win last season in Bahrain.
“Red Bull have had some really good running,” Hamilton admitted.
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“Both drivers have been looking strong. They are going to be a different animal this year.
“A strong line-up with the two drivers and a really good car.”
Verstappen won the final Grand Prix of 2020 at Abu Dhabi and Hamilton believes he can carry that form into the new season.
He added: “Having won the last race, you can only assume they are going to be right there if not at the front at the first race and it is going to be a great long battle with them through the year.”
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Verstappen has been delighted with Red Bull’s pre-season testing but he has admitted that “it doesn’t give you any guarantees” of success.
Asked if he has had the best pre-season of his career to date, Verstappen replied: “Yeah, definitely I think it has been the best.
“But it doesn’t give you any guarantees. We’ll find out through the first race weekend where we are.
“We always look in to what we can improve. For sure there are some things we want to work on. But I guess every team has that.”
Perez, meanwhile, has admitted that he is “pretty excited” for the season to start, saying: “To say I’m ready, you have no other option.
“We just have to make the most of it and start step by step, be patient in the beginning and things will come to us.
“I have to say, the first Red Bull I’ve driven feels pretty good and certainly there is good potential in the car. I’m pretty excited. I think we’ve got a good car underneath us and the team is doing a fantastic job.
“As I’ve said, it doesn’t matter where we start in Bahrain, it’s where we finish in Abu Dhabi, so let’s go ahead step by step and it should be a good season for us.”
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