Max Verstappen has welcomed the challenge from Mercedes ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix.
George Russell will line up alongside pole-sitter Verstappen on the front row of the grid for Sunday's race after qualifying in P2, while Lewis Hamilton is not far behind in P3.
The high altitude of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez looks to be favouring the Silver Arrows and Verstappen is anticipating a good battle with them, though he admits that he had not initially expected this earlier in the weekend.
"After the first practice, I didn't expect this of course, but if you look at the season and how much downforce they have, they are going well here," Verstappen told media, including RacingNews365.com, after Saturday's qualifying.
"The thinner air obviously helps them too."
Verstappen explains impact of thinner air
The altitude at the circuit in Mexico City has often benefitted Red Bull in the past, but Verstappen has explained that the changes introduced into F1 in 2022 have resulted in such aspects changing.
"It's a completely different concept in terms of the car, so you can't compare that to the past years," the Dutchman said.
"Usually Mercedes do well when we drive with a lot of downforce and if you [like Mercedes] are a bit short on the straight, then it matters a bit less here in Mexico."
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Verstappen expecting battle with Mercedes at Mexican GP
With the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc back in P5 and P7 respectively, Mercedes look to be Red Bull's closest competitors in Mexico.
Verstappen believes that the fight is positive for Formula 1, but admits that his own focus is partially on thinking ahead to 2023.
"I think it's good for the sport of course, but we also have to work towards next year," the World Champion commented.
"We have points we want to improve ourselves on, so that we can then create a bit of a gap again.
"I think Mercedes will have a good race pace. Therefore, it will not be easy, but we will go for that win.
"Moreover, I think Mercedes will also have chances in Abu Dhabi, but we will see in the end."
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