Red Bull have slipped backwards from a promising FP2 as Mercedes main rivals to struggling throughout qualifying and with Max Verstappen finishing fifth and a significant six-tenths off of pole.

The 20-year-old says the gap was almost totally being pulled out on the straights as Red Bull was able to hold its own in terms of performance on the twisty sectors.

"I’ve looked at the GPS data and we definitely missed like half a second on the straights. So that’s the gap,” Verstappen said.

Verstappen had complained about understeer on the radio during qualifying but said it wasn't making a significant difference to the Red Bull pace.

"Definitely we could’ve improved the balance a little bit,” he said. “But, afterwards looking at it it was still not too bad compared to the pole guy. We knew it was going to be more painful here on this track and I think it showed again. But that’s qualifying. Normally in the race we should be a bit closer."

Despite his frustrations in qualifying, Verstappen is expecting to be closer to Ferrari in the race, who were also losing time.

“They are also a lot slower on the straights than Mercedes.”

Over the season, Mercedes seem to have struggled more on high downforce tracks, while Ferrari still lack a little outright pace - and Red Bull have been able to snatch opportunities between the two. However, Verstappen says he wasn't hopeful Interlagos would be one of those chances.

“It's a bit difficult to say really. In qualifying we’ve lacked performance and in the race we should be closer. In general if you look to sector two, where the corners are like 800 and there’s still a bit of a straight going on, so it’s not that we are really bad in those corners. Actually I think turns 8, 9 and 10 we were very competitive. So, yeah just may be one or two corners where we could’ve been a little bit better and the rest we lost out on the straights.

“But I think Mercedes are actually quite fast on the soft tyres. They’re normally quite aggressive on the tyres and the soft tyre is a bit of a stiff tyre and it seems to work quite well for them. We have to wait and see.”


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