Lewis Hamilton has shrugged off Christian Horner's claim that Mercedes could move even further ahead of the field in this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix amid further evidence of developing 'mind games' between Red Bull and F1's current pacesetters. 

Ahead of Mercedes' attempts to secure a third win at the start of F1's new turbo era, Horner has suggested that the nature of the Sakhir circuit, which features several straights and places a lot of load on traction, plays to the strengths of the pacesetting W05 even more than Sepang did last week, when Red Bull were a distant third to runaway victor Hamilton. 

"I think their advantage in Bahrain possibly will be bigger than it was here because obviously that's quite a power-dominated circuit," Horner told reporters last Sunday.

Having seen his team usurped as F1's fastest team by Mercedes following the sports reset of rules and regulations, Horner suggested on the eve of the season-opener in Australia that he "wouldn't be surprised if they finished two laps ahead of everyone". 

Mercedes could be accused of engaging in the mind games with their recovering rivals after the team's key personnel all stressed their dominance in Malaysia that Red Bull still remained F1's "benchmark". 

Hamilton said on Thursday in Bahrain what he thought of Horner's recent comments.

He said: "The name of the game is to take the focus off yourself and put it on someone else." 

The Briton then joked: "So I'll do the same: we're expecting them to be really quick this weekend, blah, blah, blah, blah..."

The former World Champion insisted that instead of watching every step of Red Bull's ongoing recovery, Mercedes were just focusing on maintaining their current margin of superiority. 

"Every race it resets and you get a different reading. One race you'll bring an upgrade and the other will not, and then one race they'll bring an upgrade, so it doesn't really mean anything," Hamilton told a later press briefing.

This weekend, who knows whether we've brought new parts or that we move forward? Who knows whether they've brought new parts or improved their engines? We won't know so and it will reset every weekend. Our goal is to make sure that that gap doesn't decrease."

Despite Hamilton playing down the prospect of another runaway success, Mercedes do start the weekend as the clear favourites for their third successive win with Hamilton particularly favoured after his large margin of victory over team-mate Nico Rosberg at Sepang. 

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Formula 1