Title rivals each playing the underdog card

Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1 world championship leader Max Verstappen believes the Friday practice timesheets are not entirely representative of the true pecking order at the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen set comfortably the fastest lap in Free Practice 2, his 1:05.412s more than three tenths clear of second-placed Daniel Ricciardo.

The Dutchman though is wary of title rival Lewis Hamilton, who he believes was the true fast man from the opening day at the Red Bull Ring.

“In the second practice Lewis had a faster lap time that was deleted so it looks a bit different to what is shown at the moment on the timesheets but we expect to see both teams at the top,” said Verstappen.

“The weather forecast looks like it is changing all the time, so let’s see what it is actually like tomorrow, but I think it will be a very tight battle again.”

Hamilton meanwhile conceded Mercedes have been on the back foot of late, but hopes they can put Red Bull under pressure in qualifying tonight (starting 23:00 AEST).

“We’re a little bit down, particularly over a single lap, but generally the car felt relatively solid,” said the seven-time champion.

“I’m happy with where we’ve got the car to, I’ve been working hard all week trying to figure out where I want the car and I hope the hard work starts paying off soon.

“Red Bull are throwing some good punches at the moment so we’ve just got to have our guard up and make sure we’re ready for the return.”

Verstappen holds a 14-point buffer over nearest threat Hamilton in the standings, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez holding third.

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