Red Bull progress ‘not good enough,’ Verstappen admits

Max Verstappen admits he was hoping to still be ahead of the chasing pack at the Spanish Grand Prix but that Red Bull’s progress with its car setup was shown not to be good enough after he was beaten to pole position.

Red Bull’s advantage has been reduced in the previous four races, with Lando Norris winning in Miami and pushing Verstappen all the way in Imola, before Charles Leclerc’s victory in Monaco and George Russell’s pole position in Canada. Those tracks demanded curb usage that Red Bull felt was a weakness it needed to address, and while Verstappen says there have been improvements he saw Norris unexpectedly pip him to pole in Barcelona on Saturday.

“I think it’s been OK, but not good enough, clearly,” Verstappen said. “These kinds of tracks, I was hoping, of course, to be ahead. But the other teams are catching up. We’ve seen this already in the last few races, so it’s definitely a lot harder. We need to do everything perfect to be first. We just need to bring more performance to the car.”


Norris called his final lap “perfect” and one of the best of his career, but Verstappen was also happy with the way his last run had come together despite losing out by 0.02s.

“The lap itself was good. I mean, I even also got a tow to Turn 1. I think in general, when you look at it, the whole of qualifying was just miles better than practice for me. I always felt like the car was not really connected in all the free practice sessions. So when I went into qualifying, it just clicked much better.

“I think in the very high speed, we were particularly strong around the laps, with Turns 3, 9, and the last corner, which were quite comfortably flat. But I guess in a way probably that’s why we were not improving that much in the final few runs because those corners are flat, so there’s nothing to gain, and then there are not that many corners left around the track.

“So I did make my gains but I probably was already flat, where maybe Lando wasn’t flat before and then you just lose out a little bit with that. So maybe a bit too draggy for qualifying, looking back at it, but that’s something that is always very easy to say afterwards because the whole of the weekend we were just sliding around too much and now probably it was finally hooked up and you probably would have turned down the wing a little bit, but that’s how it goes.”

With Red Bull coming under increasing pressure, Verstappen says the team has lost the advantage it had both last season and at the beginning of this year.

“In terms of a wake-up call, I think we are pretty much very awake already with what’s happening. So we need to push on,” he said. “We need to bring parts faster, better. I mean, we’ve had a very dominant car last year. That is very … I mean, it’s completely gone, naturally. And we just need to really try and make a step ahead again.”

Verstappen also says his race pace is unknown, with Norris insisting he is confident his McLaren is quick enough to fight the Red Bull even if Verstappen takes the lead at the start.

“I hope I can have just a good start and kind of control it from there,” Norris said. “But I’m sure the whole race I’m going to be under pressure and going to have to make those kind of calls. But I look forward to it.

“I look forward to racing against anyone, and probably Max is the guy on the track that I’ve raced the least, just because he’s always been too far ahead. I’m happy to now kind of be there and I’m sure whether I’m first or second tomorrow coming out of Turn 1, it’s going to be a fight till pretty much the end of the race.

“So I’m excited. I look forward to it. I’ve not had many opportunities to do so. When I have, he’s normally been about a second lap quicker, but that’s not the case anymore. So I’m excited to just race against him and have some fun.”

Story originally appeared on Racer