Max Verstappen has given his reaction to George Russell’s claim that Red Bull are still masking their true pace. The Milton Keynes-based squad have taken victory at all three opening rounds of the 2023 F1 season, but Russell believes that there is still more to come from the championship leaders. “For sure they’re holding back,” said Russell to the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast. “I think they are almost embarrassed to show their full potential because the faster they seem, the more that the sport is going to try and hold them back somehow.” However, Verstappen has suggested that this is not the case, with the Dutchman arguing that he did not deem it necessary to push too hard and risk wearing out his tyres in Melbourne. Verstappen: No need to destroy your tyres “I think anyway, there’s nothing really they can do,” Verstappen said. “I mean, we just try to do the best we can with the development of the car, but it’s also about pace management. “We didn’t really know, I think no-one really knew how long that Hard tyre would last, so it’s about just bringing it home because we had a bit of pace I think over the others. “There’s no need to try and gain half a second a lap and destroy your tyres to the end because you never know, a Safety Car can happen, red flags, like we had today. So yeah, it’s not necessary to risk all that.” Verstappen on first lap After starting from pole position, Verstappen lost places to both Mercedes cars on the first lap of the race. The World Champion was not worried by this, however, given the pace advantage that Red Bull hold over their rivals. “I was just quite cautious as well, in the first lap,” Verstappen explained. “I didn’t want to risk getting damaged and the cars behind me were really aggressive which [is] fair enough, they knew they were not quick enough, so the only chance they had was Lap 1 and they took advantage of that.”

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