Max Verstappen has put down the shrinking performance gap in Bahrain between Red Bull and Haas to a strong effort from the US squad while his own team has struggled this weekend.

The Dutch driver has qualified in fifth place for the Bahrain Grand Prix but by just 0.005s from Kevin Magnussen in the Haas, while both he and teammate Romain Grosjean outqualified Pierre Gasly in the second Red Bull.

Both Red Bull drivers complained of setup and balance problems for failing to maximise the team’s potential, with Verstappen crediting Haas with an impressive effort this weekend.

“Haas have done a good job for them, but we haven’t done the best from our side,” Verstappen said. “So then it’s quite normal that they are close, because I think in general the midfield is a bit closer to the top three. We just have to look at ourselves.

“For me it has been all over the place the whole weekend, but in qualifying I was struggling with the rear.

“If you don’t have the balance yourself it’s always going to be a tricky one. We just have to look at ourselves. If we can look at ourselves and say ‘okay we did the best job possible out of our car’ then you maybe are surprised, but at the moment I’m not surprised.”

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Despite his concerns, Verstappen feels the problems aren’t a major worry for Red Bull both in terms of race pace for the Bahrain Grand Prix and for the rest of the season having been comfortably ahead of Haas and the rest of the F1 midfield during pre-season testing and at the 2019 opener in Australia.

“After every single Grand Prix we look at what could be better, and obviously we want to try to improve downforce in an efficient way. It’s a normal process,” he said.

“Clearly we haven’t found the sweet spot yet, so there’s definitely more to learn from our side.”

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