Max Verstappen has played down the hype surrounding Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix. The Dutchman is also certain Red Bull Racing will find an answer to the problems that affected them during the Austrian Grand Prix.

Many in the F1 paddock feel the smooth and flowing nature of the circuit at Le Castellet will suit the Mercedes. The Silver Arrows have high expectations within the team that this weekend could be their best chance of winning their first race of the 2022 campaign.

Mercedes showed promise in Barcelona and Silverstone - both tracks with a smooth tarmac like the Paul Ricard Circuit. However, Verstappen is not entertaining the hype surrounding Hamilton and Mercedes this weekend and believes Red Bull and Ferrari will be the main contenders.

"I dont know, maybe. I don't pay a lot of attention to that. It's more important to get the best out of ourselves because it's not been as straightforward as I would like," Verstappen said, as quoted by the Daily Express.

Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen is likely to increase his 12-point lead in the next two F1 races Zak Mauger/POOL

The Dutch racer admitted that Red Bull got it wrong in Austria when they were convincingly beaten by Ferrari. However, Ferrari's reliability issues gifted Verstappen second place, which the Drivers' Championship leader feels was a good result considering his team's issues.

"We didnt put the best package on track in Austria," Verstappen added. "Then it causes issues with the tyres. I expect us to be more competitive here. It's important to score points even when you're not as competitive as you'd like."

"If that's our off weekend [in Austria] and we finish second, that's good for us. We need to understand our car better to not make the same mistake. Hopefully we won't do that again."

While tyre degradation is again expected to be an issue at Paul Ricard, the Red Bulls are again expected to lead the charge at Le Castellet this weekend.

Ferrari will again be at the front with them, and Verstappen is expecting a tight battle against Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, as well as his own teammate Sergio Perez. Mercedes, meanwhile, are the dark horses with the Silver Arrows bringing yet another upgrade package to close the gap to the front.

Max Verstappen
Red Bull's Max Verstappen is looking to build on his win in Saudi Arabia ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP