Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has rejected claims he is favorite for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix and a potential title contender.
The Dutchman has won two of the last three races and is 62 points behind leader Lewis Hamilton with 10 races to go.
“I don’t think we are favorites but we will try to do a good job,” Verstappen said.
“With Mercedes having had such a dominant start to the season, it is really hard to catch them. We are going to try but I am not thinking about the title.”
Verstappen won a chaotic race in Germany last weekend and also in Austria two races before that. He missed out on a podium at Silverstone in between Austria and Germany only when he was rammed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, but still finished fifth.
“For them, being more than 60 points in the lead is massive,” Verstappen said. “They had a bad weekend but it can also happen to us.
“It is still a big gap to close.”
- Hungarian GP: Lewis Hamilton aims to return to winning ways after Germany carnage
- Hungarian Grand Prix radio & online coverage details
- Fortune favours the cautious in Germany classic
The 21-year-old predicted Mercedes would be especially determined to bounce back at the Hungaroring after a difficult race last Sunday in Germany, where Hamilton was ninth and team-mate Valtteri Bottas crashed.
“If you look over the whole season so far, Mercedes has been the most dominant and especially after last weekend they will come here to try to bounce back from that,” Verstappen said.
“They will try everything to do a good job here.”
For many, Verstappen has arguably been the driver of the season so far, and he said he was benefiting from the experience of now being in his fifth season.
“Knowing when to peak and when not to, when to take a risk and when not to, all these kinds of things help,” he said.
Hamilton said “time would tell” whether Verstappen and Red Bull would have a consistent pace on every type of track to challenge.
“He has done a great job and they have clearly done a great job in quite a few races now,” Hamilton said.
“In the last one, we didn’t do such a great job. It made their job look even better. They will be quick here and places like Singapore where they’ll be strong.
“They are, in general, catching up. It is great to see them progressing. We want the competition and we’ll ready for the fight whenever it comes.”