Max Verstappen plays down talk he will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes as Red Bull star admits reigning champions ‘must be favourite’ to retain their title ahead of new Formula One season

Max Verstappen has said he is just ‘focused on myself’ instead of the swirling rumours about potentially replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year. Even Red Bull chief Christian Horner went as far as to suggest that Verstappen could make the move. Verstappen accepted that rivals Mercedes are the front-runners for the upcoming Formula One season, but that he remains ‘realistic’ about his own titles hopes. The Red Bull ace finished third in last year’s championship behind the Mercedes pairing of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Having completed a first drive of Red Bull’s car for the new season at Silverstone, Verstappen was under no illusions about the difficulty of challenging Hamilton, who is going for a record eighth world title. Verstappen remained cagey following his first drive of Red Bull’s new car, with the team remaining tight-lipped about the changes they have made.

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