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Red Bull executing but struggling for outright pace – Verstappen

Max Verstappen says Red Bull is struggling for outright pace but managing to execute races better than its rivals at present after winning the Spanish Grand Prix.

Lando Norris took pole position in Barcelona but dropped to third at the start as George Russell took an early lead, before Verstappen quickly cleared the Mercedes. With Norris stuck for the entire first stint, Verstappen built up enough of a buffer that meant Norris fell 2.2s short when chasing down the Red Bull, as McLaren showed itself to have the quickest car in race trim.

“I think we are struggling a little bit for that outright pace, it felt like,” Verstappen said. “Plus, I feel like we didn’t have the best tire life today compared to Lando. It just seemed like he could push a bit more in some corners.

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“We were a bit upset at one point with the tires as well, because he went a bit longer in the first stint. We still optimize everything. I mean, I can’t really say that we did something wrong in the race, but we just need to try and find more performance.”

Although not immediately taking the lead, Verstappen says the opening laps when he cleared both Norris and then Russell proved to be the deciding factor as time lost in traffic proved too big for Norris to overcome.

“It wasn’t straightforward,” he said. “At the start, I think it was quite critical to get ahead of Lando, looking at it now. Of course, at the time, you just tried to do what you think is best… Then also what was very important was getting ahead of George, so that first stint I could eke out a bit of a gap. That all worked well.

“We were quite aggressive on the strategy, as a team, with our pit stops, so I think as a whole package, performance, we had a good race. We really tried to maximize everything, but I do think that we’re struggling a bit for the optimum pace, lacking a bit of tire deg towards the end of every stint.

“It wasn’t a very straightforward, easy race. Lando was catching quite hard at the end, but luckily it worked out that it was just enough.”

With Norris noted but not investigated for forcing Verstappen off track at the start, and then stating he felt he left enough room, the Dutchman says he wasn’t overly upset with his rival’s defending.

“I think I know his birthday present already — it’s either a big mirror or some glasses, and it will be fine!” Verstappen joked. “It’s OK. I mean, it’s hard racing for sure. If you turn it around, would I have done the same? I probably would have done the same. You always try to squeeze it to the limit.

“I also really wanted to avoid potential contact because you don’t want to rub wheels and potentially damage your suspension, so you naturally leave probably a few centimeters extra. Those few extra centimeters meant that I had to go a little bit on the grass. Luckily, with doing that, nothing happened, so it’s all good — we still had a good run to Turn 1.”

Story originally appeared on Racer