Red Bull looking to go 'full attack' from Austria, Mercedes wary of Verstappen

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Red Bull hopes to start the new Formula 1 season in "full attack" mode when it begins in Austria next month.

For the first time in the sport's history, two rounds of one championship will be held at the same venue as the Red Bull Ring hosts back-to-back Grands Prix on July 5 and 12.

Not only is it a matter of pride for the Austrian drinks giant to be able to start the season at their home race, but it also may give the Milton Keynes-based squad an advantage, as Max Verstappen has won in each of the past two years, while Mercedes have struggled.

"Of course, that gives us a lot of self-confidence," Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said in an interview with RTL.

"They've always had problems but we don't know what the proportions are. We know that the winter tests are deceptive and disguised and we come here with versions of the car that have never been tried."

Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing F1

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The Austrian also noted how Red Bull is usually slow to start the season, but with such a late start this year - and the need to maximise every race given the uncertainty over the calendar post-Monza - the aim is to fight for wins from the get-go.

"Since I'm assuming the first eight weekends in Europe will be fixed, and that would be enough for a world championship, you need to be completely 'on' from the first race and make the most of it," Marko said.

"So we want to go full attack from the first race.

"We've had setbacks time and time again, but we now have a solid engine supplier with Honda and we have learned from past mistakes.

"Above all, we weren't really competitive until the middle of the season. Now that we are starting in the middle of the season, our preparation has been much better.

"Mercedes and Hamilton are clearly the favourites, but we see ourselves as the first and serious challenger."

As for the world champions, they too are wary of Verstappen at the first two circuits, with the twisty Hungaroring following the races in Spielberg.

“There's no doubt that Max is going to be a formidable opponent for us this year,” technical director James Allison said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“Ferrari too showed glimpses of some form in pre-season testing, [but] we would imagine that Max will again be strong in Austria because Red Bull are always super-pumped up there and they've got a bit of a track record.”