Max Verstappen is hoping to find a little more top-end speed plus grip in Interlagos to take his charge to Mercedes at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

After struggling for grip and balance during the opening practice session, the Red Bull driver found a better set-up in FP2 to go fifth fastest on the timesheet but still behind both Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

While the 20-year-old refused to rule out challenging Mercedes for victory, a pattern Red Bull has produced in recent races come Sunday, Verstappen is adamant it needs to uncover a stronger long run pace plus single lap improvements in order to keep clear of the Ferrari pair in qualifying.

“The car was a bit all over the place on the super-soft so that should be a bit better but we are not too far off,” Verstappen said. “The long runs on the super-soft seems to be quite okay but on the softs it seems Mercedes is very quick.

“We know they are normally a little bit harder on their tyres so maybe that is why the soft works for them quite well. There are still some improvements we need to make.

“Yes I think our car in the past few races has definitely been the quickest car now we just need a bit more top speed. I think generally the car is very good. I think Mercedes is quick but if we can make some improvements then we will be there or thereabout.”

Verstappen is enjoying a hot run of form with two wins and one second place to his name in the past four races which has given him an outside shot of catching Kimi Raikkonen for fifth place in the Formula 1 world drivers’ championship. Verstappen trails the Ferrari driver by 30 points with two rounds remaining in 2017.

 

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