Verstappen: ‘We’re close to Mercedes, Ferrari’


Max Verstappen has said he is "positively surprised" by the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari after qualifying fifth at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Verstappen, who is backed this weekend by a 80,000-strong army of Dutch fans, was eight tenths behind the record-equalling Lewis Hamilton but just three tenths slower than his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Only one tenth separated the Dutchman and Raikkonen for P4 and that has helped give him the confidence of perhaps ruffling a few feathers in Sunday's race.

"I was really happy with my lap in Q3," said Verstappen.

"It couldn't have been better, to be honest, as I feel I put everything together and got the best performance out of the car possible.

"I think the lap felt better than P5, last year I was P2 and I think it felt just as good this year, but I'm happy with the result anyway and would say it was a perfect qualifying.

"I am positively surprised we are so close to Ferrari, Lewis [Hamilton] was way ahead but in the race I think we can be closer so perhaps a good result is possible."

On the other side of the garage, Daniel Ricciardo was more downbeat after having to settle for P6.

"We were a bit off in Q1, but I knew there was more time, and then in Q2 we got closer to the pace that we needed," he said.

"Unfortunately in Q3, when you really start to get everything out of it, we couldn't get much more.

"I felt like if I pushed more in one part of the track it killed me in another part so I didn't really feel we had the car to complete one lap at 100 per cent.

"I just felt a little bit limited with the balance, but I'm going to be optimistic and say, if that's the case maybe that means we have got a more consistent car for the race.

"If we're not getting the peak out of the tyre maybe we can sustain a relatively good pace for longer than the others, so that's what I'm betting on."