Spanish GP: Max Verstappen ready to fight Ferrari for podium
"The gap to Ferrari is very small," says Verstappen as he looks ahead to race; Watch the Spanish GP at 2.10pm on Sky F1, build-up from 12.30pm
By Matt Morlidge in Barcelona
Last Updated: 11/05/19 6:20pm
Max Verstappen believes a podium at the Spanish GP is "realistic" for Red Bull after finishing much closer to Ferrari than expected in qualifying.
Verstappen impressively split the much-fancied but under-performing Ferraris in Barcelona qualifying, finishing fourth and ahead of Charles Leclerc, while he was only a tenth of a second behind Sebastian Vettel.
The Dutchman was still the best part of a second off the pace of pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas, but he believes he got the maximum from his afternoon.
"Mercedes [have been] just too quick the whole weekend," Verstappen told reporters. "I think we did a good job to at least get one Ferrari, because even they looked a little bit too quick after Practice Three as well."
Verstappen's performance gives the Honda-powered team a good chance in the race, which starts at 2.10pm on Sky Sports F1, with Red Bull usually much stronger on a Sunday compared to Saturday.
"Fighting for third, I think that's a realistic chance to us," he said. "The gap to Ferrari is very small. I think normally in the race we are little bit more competitive so I hope that's the same case tomorrow."
When's the Spanish GP on Sky?
Can Ferrari bounce back and halt Mercedes' charge? Find out this weekend at the Spanish GP, live only on Sky Sports F1.
But while Verstappen was positive about Red Bull's qualifying in the circumstances, admitting Mercedes have made another "good step forward" with their new upgrade, he still hoped to be fighting for poles and victories at this stage of the season.
"I wanted it to be first," Verstappen added. "I always want to be first. But we are not, clearly not.
"We're very motivated and determined to try and close the gap but it's not that easy."
Addressing the performance difference between Red Bull and Mercedes, he continued: "[We are lacking] everywhere.
"I guess we were hoping [to be closer with upgrades]. There's nothing wrong but it just needs more grip.
"If it would be that easy we would have already fixed it so clearly not. If it was easy to understand, every race we would improve the car."
Ferrari reflect on growing gap
Eight tenths adrift of Mercedes, and yet only one tenth ahead of Red Bull, underlined how Ferrari's weekend has not hitherto gone to plan, despite introducing fresh chassis upgrades and bringing forward their first engine upgrade of the year.
Sebastian Vettel, who starts ahead of Verstappen in third, admits the sobering qualifying timesheet was not in the plan.
"We wanted it to look differently - it isn't - so we'll see what we can do tomorrow," he said. "We are happy with the position but not the gap.
Get Sky Sports F1 for £10
Sky Sports F1 the Home of Live and Exclusive F1 is available for just £10 a month
"I think we have made a step forward, but Mercedes look like they have done a bigger step.
"We have to remain positive. The [new aero] bits are working, the engine is working, but we wanted to be a mach and ahead of Mercedes and we find ourselves behind."
Watch the Spanish GP live only on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Sunday's race starts at 2.10pm. Sky Sports is the home of live and exclusive F1. Find out more here to watch the 2019 season live