Daniel Ricciardo has played down Red Bull’s pre-race favourites tag at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, adding the team’s Formula 1 rivals are simply looking to relieve some pressure. 

Red Bull has been tipped as strong contenders for victory this weekend around Monte Carlo’s twisty streets, given that the circuit rewards a solid chassis and downforce combination more so than having a powerful engine. 

Mercedes is bracing itself for a difficult race in the principality following its struggles in 2017, with Lewis Hamilton suggesting Red Bull is the team to beat this weekend, with the Milton Keynes based-outfit enjoying a strong start to the new campaign, having already recorded a win in China. 

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“They are also just trying to take a little bit of pressure off them and put it on us,” Ricciardo told reporters on Wednesday. “It is no secret that we are always pretty good around here. We weren’t good enough last year but for sure previous years we have been. 

“Everyone talked about the last sector in Barcelona - for sure we were pretty handy there, so we will be pretty decent. I’d be surprised if we weren’t at least close. We should be less than 0.7s from pole. Put it that way.

“There are no guarantees that we will be the quickest,” he added. “I still say the DNA of our car is solid, and I do feel it is better than last year’s car. So last year we were not quick enough to fight for the victory, but I feel we are kind of where we were in 2016 now coming into this race now. We are still not the quickest car but we can be if we get it all hooked up."

Despite the view that Monaco should favour Red Bull, Max Verstappen believes the team’s rivals Mercedes and Ferrari will still hold a power advantage in qualifying.

“It’s never equal. I think we’re still down on horsepower so that you will always see on every single track, plus they have the qualifying mode so it’s just better for us, because it won’t make as big of a difference. Normally it’s let’s say four or five tenths may be here two tenths, and I think we can work with that.”

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