Max Verstappen believes his Red Bull F1 team has taken a “massive” step forward after qualifying closer to the leaders ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Like all its rivals, Red Bull has introduced a significant upgrade package for its car this weekend, and Verstappen reckons it has helped the team reduce the gap significantly to Mercedes and Ferrari .
Verstappen qualified less than six tenths behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona, having been nearly two seconds off the pace in the previous qualifying in Russia.
“Absolutely we went forward,” said Verstappen after finishing fifth. “So far this weekend before qualifying we were still finding the balance a bit with the new upgrades, but I think in qualifying we were spot on.
“I think the car was definitely the best I’ve had all season, so I’m very happy. It was a good qualifying.
“To come from one second to six tenths is a massive step already. Now we just need to keep pushing on the car side and wait to see what comes from the engine.
“We cannot control that. We are definitely more positive at the moment.”
The Dutchman said the upgrades have translated into a huge improvement to the balance of the car, but reckons the RB13 has got stronger in every area.
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“I think everywhere,” he said when asked where had the car improved. “The car has a better balance from entry to mid and mid to exit of the corner. I think now it’s a much more stable balance and you can push a lot more, and I think it showed today.
“For me the balance was really good and now we just need to keep on working to get even more downforce in the car. But if you look at the last sector I was third-quickest of all the drivers, so that shows we are on the good way.”
The Red Bull driver acknowledged that closing the gap further will not be as easy, but he feels the team is now heading in the right direction.
“Well, we had to. It’s easier to make a slow car faster and to close that gap, because 1.5 seconds is a lot. Now it’s six tenths. Now it will be hard to close those six tenths, but we are working on it.
“Like I said, the car has a much more stable balance. For sure there’s still a bit to unlock from the car and then the rest we need to get it from the engine side as well, because we know in qualifying specially Mercedes can just turn up the engine which we can’t do.
“It was a very positive day for us.”