Max Verstappen: “I never expected to beat Ferrari and Mercedes on this track”

Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Max Verstappen felt Red Bull Racing lost too much time on the straights to be fighting for a front row start at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on Saturday, so he was happy to qualify fourth on the grid.

The Red Bull Racing driver ended 0.603 seconds behind Valtteri Bottas in Q3, but felt he got everything he could out of the car, and Verstappen admitted that both he and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo have been chasing the set-up of the car all weekend long so it was no surprise they found themselves behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Scuderia Ferrari on Saturday.

“I think we maximised the result in Qualifying today but we were just not fast enough,” said Verstappen. “In general the pace has been simply not quite good enough across the whole weekend.

“I think both Daniel and I have been chasing the car balance and we could never find the full grip and potential. In Qualifying the grip was a little bit better; we lose a lot of time on the straights here but I think there are also one or two tenths we could have found.

“I never expected to beat Ferrari and Mercedes on this track as it’s just not strong for us, but I did expect to be a little closer.”

Verstappen knows Red Bull’s best chances of a strong result on Sunday would come if it rains, but the weather prediction indicates a dry afternoon in Brazil, but he is still looking to make the best of the situation.

“For sure I would love some rain in the race, but I don’t think it looks like that’s going to happen,” said Verstappen. “Maybe I will do some praying tonight!

“We may need a bit of luck to be honest, but you never know what can happen up front and it can still be an exciting race.”