Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s engine power deficit to the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes in China is at the core of his qualifying frustrations as he sends a message to “the guys who listen”.

The Dutch driver was heard over his team radio venting his annoyance at his RB14’s lack of top speed and outright power from his Renault engine against its front-running rivals as he had to settle for fifth place in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s best lap was over seven-tenths of a second behind pole sitter Sebastian Vettel in Ferrari which he says was largely lost on the long straights at the Shanghai International Circuit and wants to make his feelings clear.

“I think it would be a bad thing if it wouldn’t frustrate me right?” Verstappen said. “I’m here to win races and I think everybody who is working on my car is thinking exactly the same thing. We want to push as hard as we can.

“If I said it quietly then I think I would be racing in GTs or something because I wouldn’t be so bothered. It is to put a bit of pressure on. Not only in public because I don’t say it to the public. It is to the guys who listen to my radio.”

Verstappen pinpointed the issue with the team’s engine software and with focus on shifting up through the gears at maximum revs which is costing Red Bull the most amount of lap time.

“I think the gap on the straights was a bit bigger than we expected,” he said. “Before we came here and also from our side it is about fine tuning the power modes which were not great.

“It is similar issues to what I’ve had before because of the limiter we are close to some problems. Up shifting and stuff doesn’t really work properly when you get close to the rev limiter.”

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