Max Verstappen says his target is to put pressure on Mercedes in the Spanish Grand Prix after qualifying third behind Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen started from fourth place at last weekend’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix but was the quickest car in hot conditions and duly took a comfortable victory, climbing to second in the drivers’ championship. After securing third in Barcelona, Verstappen is not expecting such a pace advantage on harder tire compounds but is hopeful similar temperatures will open up opportunities for him.
“It seems like I have a subscription to P3!” Verstappen said. “I think I’ve been P3 the whole weekend. I tried, of course, to be as close as possible. I was pretty happy with my lap. I think we extracted the most out of the car. We can’t complain, really. I think the car was pretty competitive. Of course there are still areas where we can do a better job but we are definitely improving the car, which is good.
“I felt very happy in the long run yesterday, with the balance of the car and the wear of the tires as well. But tomorrow is a new day and we’ll have to try and show it again. Of course, I hope that I can be close to them and put the pressure on.”
Hamilton edged Bottas to pole position by 0.059s and the Finn has vowed to take the fight to his teammate, but he also warns conditions are more likely to suit Red Bull even if he doesn’t expect such a dramatic swing in pace as at Silverstone.
“I think we are expecting less issues than last weekend, just because it’s a different type of track and so far we’ve seen no issues with blistering or things like what happened at Silverstone,” Bottas said. “I think it’s going to be difficult. Here always if it’s hot, it’s just about the overheating, especially the tire surface overheating and trying to manage that. And yes, we’ve seen Red Bull is pretty strong when it’s warm and when it’s all about tire management.
“I think the start will be the best opportunity for me (to pass Hamilton). On Friday my long runs were competitive. I will have the pace but still the start will be the best chance. I’ll try to get there first. Trust me.”