Max Verstappen says he can be happy with getting close to the ‘big four’ during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, even if he recognises he would have never been able to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari in his Red Bull.

The adopted ‘home’ favourite thrilled the massive crowds with consistently quick times through the twisty middle sectors, but would ultimately lose to time to his rivals in the power-dependent sectors one and three using his Renault-powered RB13.

With Mercedes and Ferrari known to be able to ‘turn up’ their engines for qualifying, Verstappen was content with getting to within a tenth of Kimi Raikkonen in fifth place and half a second clear of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

“It’s still P5 but my lap felt really good so I can be happy with that. That was good. I think we extracted the most out of it and may be Ferrari didn’t fully. It should be closer [in the race] I think that’s always the case. In qualifying they can turn up their engines a bit more.

“I think we tried to make a compromise but it didn’t work so we played on our strengths and that was sector two and it seemed to work pretty well.”

Looking ahead to the race, Verstappen believes Red Bull has a more comparable car in race trim even if he still expects his main rivals to have the edge.

“Everything can happen. It can happen in every race where you can have a good result or like a good qualifying. So sometimes that’s a part of racing.

“We have to wait and see. We are quite slow on the straight but normally when you are in a tow it’s alright. We just need to make sure we have a good turn one and then of course that we are good through Eau Rouge.”

 

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