Verstappen says Red Bull not on same level as rivals
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[March 25, 2017]
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian
Grand Prix qualifying showed Red Bull are not yet on the same level
as Formula One rivals Mercedes and Ferrari but Max Verstappen said
he was not surprised.
"Basically I saw it coming after winter testing, this is the best we
could do," the 19-year-old Dutch driver told Sky Sports television
on Saturday after he qualified fifth behind the two Mercedes and
Ferraris for the season-opening race.
Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo was 10th after spinning into
the tire wall in the final phase of the session without setting a
Verstappen said the car had a tricky balance and lacked pace.
"We are still down on power but also, in terms of grip level and
things, we are not on the same level compared to Ferrari and
Mercedes yet," he said.
"Our best hope tomorrow is a clean start because we don't have the
pace to challenge the Ferraris and Mercedes. I'm realistic."
He said Sunday's race, with Lewis Hamilton on pole for Mercedes and
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel also on the front row, could be a lonely
one for him with a likely gap to the cars behind and in front.
Verstappen's best lap of one minute 23.485 seconds was 1.3 seconds
slower than Hamilton's pole time.
The Dutchman was more than half a second quicker than sixth fastest
qualifier Romain Grosjean in the Haas.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
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Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands stands in
pit lane before the start of the qualifying session. REUTERS/Brandon