Verstappen: Mercedes on ‘different level’, but…

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen PA

Max Verstappen PA

Max Verstappen concedes that Mercedes were untouchable during qualifying for the Austrian GP, but he’s confident for the race.

So far Mercedes have been leaving their rivals long behind in Austria, and during quyalifying that continued with Valtteri Bottas taking pole with a new lap record.

His 1:02.939 proved good enough for pole, but the Finn’s efforts went a little too far on his last flying lap as he went off the circuit twice.

Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton came extremely close to taking pole for himself, but fell short by 0.012s.

Verstappen meanwhile will start from P3, and although he was over half a second behind Bottas in qualifying, he is the only driver who will start Sunday’s race on the yellow-walled medium tyres.

And the Red Bull man hopes this tactical ploy will reel in the Mercedes come race day and put him in with a shout of making it three wins in a row at the Red Bull Ring.

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Speaking to Sky F1, he said: “I am happy first of all to be P3 but also we’ve a different starting tyre.

“It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be quite a bit warmer tomorrow so I hope it plays in our advantage.

“Today, Mercedes was on a different level unfortunately but let’s see what we can do tomorrow.

“Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we’re a bit better in the race.

“Now I am the only one on a different tyre in the top ten so I am just looking forward to it. We have nothing to lose so I try to make it as difficult as possible for them.”

Verstappen’s team-mate Alex Albon will start the race from P5, but while he felt the yellow flags brought out by Valtteri Bottas stopped him from making the most of his final run, he was also surprised that his lap was good enough for P5.

Without that hindrance, Albon had his eyes on Lando Norris’ P4.

“It wasn’t easy with the yellow flags,” he told Sky Sports.

“Besides, I wasn’t really behind anyone, so I didn’t have any slipstream. We could have been faster if we had been at the right time. I thought it would be worse [than fifth place].

“It would have been exciting with Norris otherwise, without the yellow flag for Bottas I would have been closer anyway.

“But I don’t think we could have done any better now than fifth place. With a drag it would have been better, but I am happy with P5 because I thought it could have been worse.”

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