Max Verstappen plays down early race wins in 2017

Max Verstappen poses for a photo on January 2, 2017
© SilverHub
Max Verstappen confirms expectations that Red Bull will touch down in Australia this week with several improvements for the 2017 car.

Max Verstappen has confirmed expectations that Red Bull will touch down in Australia this week with several improvements for the 2017 car.

The energy drink-owned team had a low-profile winter, obviously behind Mercedes and Ferrari but amid suggestions that Adrian Newey was planning a 'miracle upgrade' for Melbourne.

Asked how the Melbourne-spec car will differ, Verstappen told De Telegraaf newspaper just before leaving for Australia: "I can't say.

"But it looks better and hopefully it will be faster."

However, the 19-year-old is not confident he will have a pole and race-winning car this weekend.

"Personally, I don't think we can challenge for the victories at this stage. But we can still improve a lot during the season and we have started already," said Verstappen.

He admits that the big winter surprise was Ferrari's form, even though he is not sure the Italian team can challenge Mercedes for the title.

"But we can see they have made a big step forward and they will certainly fight for victories," said the Dutchman.

As for Mercedes, Verstappen told his website verstappen.nl: "They will always be there. They have probably done a little sandbagging, as always."

Verstappen finished 2016 in fifth place in the drivers' standings.

Dr Helmut Marko looks on in the garage during practice for the Austria Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015
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1Mercedes222
2Ferrari214
3Red Bull112
4Force India71
5Toro Rosso29
6Williams-Mercedes22
7Renault18
8Haas15
9Sauber4
10McLaren0
DriversTeamPoints
1Sebastian VettelFerrari141
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes129
3Valtteri BottasMercedes93
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari73
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull67
6Max VerstappenRed Bull45
7Sergio PerezForce India44
8Esteban OconForce India27
9Carlos SainzToro Rosso25
10Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes20
11Nico HulkenbergRenault18
12Romain GrosjeanHaas10
13Kevin MagnussenHaas5
14Pascal WehrleinSauber4
15Daniil KvyatToro Rosso4
16Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes2
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren0
18Marcus EricssonSauber0
19Jolyon PalmerRenault0
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren0
21Antonio GiovinazziSauber0
22Jenson ButtonMcLaren0
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