Thursday 28 February at 08:35 :
Feb.28 (GMM) Max Verstappen has suddenly gone very quiet about progress at Red Bull-Honda.
Prior to driving the newly Honda-powered 2019 Red Bull, the energy drink owned team including Verstappen were notably bullish about their chances.
But now, Verstappen says it is "unclear where we stand".
That is despite the fact team official Dr Helmut Marko said recently that Red Bull has moved clear of Mercedes, and is now trailing only Ferrari.
Verstappen said of the 2019 pecking order: "I don't think we will know until after the first race.
"And then the balance of power will shift during the season. Just look at how the pendulum swung back and forth over the past year," he is quoted by Speed Week.
"We are focused on preparing for Australia as well as possible, and we are well on track."
If that sounds vague, Verstappen admitted that he has a certain feeling about how the 2019 world championship will play out.
"Yes, but I will not say," the Dutchman concluded.
McLaren has dominated the top of the timesheets on the first two days of the final Barcelona test, but Renault's Daniel Ricciardo thinks "all the midfield teams could do a 1.17" as well.
"It's a good time, but we have to go faster," said the Australian.
Carlos Sainz, quickest in his McLaren on Wednesday, agrees that the British team is not suddenly leading the F1 field.
"It would be very easy to say we are now a Q3 team after being 16th, 17th, 18th last year, so it is not the time to make predictions," said the Spaniard.
"We do not have Mercedes' ability to suddenly bring a new car to a test. So I would tell the McLaren fans not to be so excited, because we are not going to win in Australia," added Sainz.