Max Verstappen feels fifth was about as good as it was going to get for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing during Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, with the Dutchman seven-tenths of a second down on the pole lap set by Sebastian Vettel.
Despite feeling that fifth was his expected position in Qualifying, the twenty-year-old felt there was time to be found if they had been able to maximise their potential with the engine, but overall, the pace deficit down the long straights at the Shanghai International Circuit was just too much to make up in the corners.
“We achieved a good car balance and feeling today so I don’t think we could have done too much more, I would say fifth on the grid is quite realistic and where we should have been,” said Verstappen.
“I don’t feel like we got the maximum out of the engine in Q3, I think there would have been some time to find if we had. We are losing time on both of the straights which is hard to make up in other areas of the track, we knew the corners would be important but it was not enough to make up the difference.”
Verstappen feels that as Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport will not be able to use their so-called ‘Party mode’ during the race, Red Bull should be closer to them on Sunday, and the Dutchman feels that with a clean start and good strategy calls he can challenge them for a podium.
“In general it was not a bad Qualifying, Ferrari were very fast but we were not that far off Mercedes at the end,” said Verstappen. “In the race they can’t use these engine modes so, based on the long run pace, we can be a lot closer to the guys in front.
“We have a different strategy, it may be a one stop or possibly a two stop race and depending on temperatures and degradation things can change. Hopefully we’ll have a clean start and then we’ll have to see if we can get up the field and secure a podium.”