Max Verstappen felt traffic and difficulty getting his tyres up to temperature in the final stage of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix exaggerated the gap to the leading Mercedes drivers on the front row of the grid.

Verstappen looked to be in the fight for pole position after leading Q2 for Red Bull, but failed to put up a fight to pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas in P2, finishing almost half a second off the pole time.

Verstappen said the pace deficit to Mercedes had been clear through the weekend, but that he felt the gap was not fairly reflected in the final qualifying results.

"I think in general through the weekend, I think we were just missing those two or three-tenths in the end," Verstappen said. "Q2 was a very good lap, but also the tyres were switched on. Around here, your tyres, that makes quite a bit of a difference.

"In Q3, my first run, I went into Turn 1, and the rear tyres were still not gripping up for me, so I lost a bit of time there. And from there on, my lap was pretty stable compared to Q2, so it was not bad.

"Then my final run in Q3, I got a bit of traffic on my outlap and when I started the lap, they just felt cold, the tyres had no grip and I was already two-tenths above [the lap], so I decided to abort.

"I don’t think it’s half a second [gap to Mercedes]. In Q3, I just didn’t get the tyres to work, and around here that is very crucial, because in Q2 we were competitive.

"We know we have some work to do to catch up, but I think as a team we keep pushing very hard to try and do that as soon as possible."