Verstappen: McLaren, Renault threat would look bad for Red Bull

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Max Verstappen has rubbished thoughts McLaren and Renault could challenge Red Bull this season, claiming it would be a bad reflection on his team.

Both the works team and their new customer are expected to feature at the front of the midfield if not be on the coattails of the front three in 2018, with Renault continuing to build their operation at Enstone and McLaren hoping a change of engine will bolster their performance.

The Dutch Red Bull driver is confident, however, that the Milton Keynes outfit won't have to look over their shoulder as they look to fight Mercedes and Ferrari for the championship.

"You pay attention to everybody, but I don't think they will be our main rivals," Verstappen told Autosport in Barcelona this week. "We don't want that to be the case as well because that would mean we are not doing such a good job. We need to look [at the teams] ahead."

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Red Bull have looked more competitive in testing, completing many more laps than they have in recent years and shown better potential too, and that has given advisor Helmut Marko reason for optimism.

"I would say from the chassis side, yes, but Mercedes in qualifying, there always comes from the engine an extra two or three tenths," he said considering if the RB14 was now level with the current world champions.

"What we have seen is that their [Mercedes'] rear tyres are overheating. It is depending on the overall package and we still have something to come, so we are positive."

The Austrian also played down Ferrari's rapid pace in the final two days, with Sebastian Vettel smashing the unofficial lap record on Thursday that was first broken by Daniel Ricciardo the day prior.

"We don't know the sort of fuel load they have, but from a package overall, and let's say on this circuit, it looks like we are a little bit ahead," Marko claimed.