Max Verstappen says there’s not a lot he can do against Lewis Hamilton in the Bahrain Grand Prix as he doesn’t have equal machinery to fight with the world champion.
Hamilton took the 98th pole position of his career on Saturday, beating teammate Valtteri Bottas by 0.3s. Verstappen had been provisionally in second place until the final runs and although he starts directly behind Hamilton on the clean side of the grid, he isn’t overly hopeful of his chances of beating the Mercedes.
“As Lewis has shown, he’s definitely one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1 but at the moment I don’t think I have equal chances,” Verstappen said. “That doesn’t take away anything from Lewis, but I’m just pushing as hard as I can with the material I have and sometimes it’s closer, sometimes a bit further away. Sometimes it looks pretty competitive. Today wasn’t as competitive.”
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Verstappen has often been the nearest challenger to Mercedes and he believes the race could be unpredictable given the high tire wear that saw all of the top ten qualify on the medium compound.
“You always want more but it’s more positive just to stay realistic and work on getting the little things right. Of course there’s still some work to do but overall, I think the weekend in general was pretty positive, just lacking a little too much in qualifying.
“I don’t know why that was and we of course have to find out but first of all we will see what we can do tomorrow. It’s quite aggressive on tires here so hopefully it will be quite an interesting race.”
While Mercedes says it switched focus to 2021 some time ago, Verstappen says he isn’t surprised by the gap remaining stable between the two teams because Red Bull has taken a similar approach.
“We are obviously pushing hard to close it but we also know there are some weaknesses in the car we can’t fix this year, so we have to wait until next year. Of course I would have liked to be closer but we are just learning about this car. We know we have to make some changes for next year and we will try to put it all together for next year and hopefully then we will be closer.”