Mercedes looks stiff and hard to drive, according to Red Bull

Max Verstappen:

When Daniel Ricciardo dropped the bombshell that he was joining Renault in 2019, it was panic stations for Red Bull. Gasly got the unexpected promotion as the Austrian team scrambled to fill the void left by Ricciardo.

The Dutchman ended the year with six podium finishes in the last eight races including one win.

Verstappen's attacking style and sheer pace has seen him long tipped to become a future world champion and Red Bull showed their faith with a contract that pays him only less than multiple-time world champions Hamilton and Vettel and the bumper deal Ricciardo signed with Renault.

Mercedes and Ferrari were split by less than a tenth of a second, with Max Verstappen just an additional tenth back for Red Bull. The vehicle looked impressive on the track and the Honda power unit has improved. Speaking to La Presse, Villeneuve said, "For Gasly, the only goal is to compare himself to Max Verstappen".

Lewis Hamilton topped the first F1 practice session of the new season as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull proved very-closely matched in the early froes of the Australian GP weekend.

Red Bull
Jacques Villeneuve

"There could be a surprise, but it's been four years that people expect surprises from Honda", he mused.

"It looks like Mercedes are very quick and they seem to be a little happier with the overall balance".

"Unfortunately it's going to be a tough one I think", he added.

"When we get to Q2 and they start to crank the engines up, that's when the story will start to unfold of where are Honda".

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