Max Verstappen doubts Red Bull will be able to compete with Ferrari for victory in Belgium this weekend, but expects to be quicker through the rest of the weekend than in practice after running a lower power mode.

Verstappen struggled to get close to the pace-setters throughout Friday’s running at Spa, finishing nine-tenths of a second down on the fastest time in FP1 and 1.2 seconds off the pace in FP2. Ferrari took a one-two finish in both sessions.

Red Bull opted to run Verstappen’s engine in a lower power setting throughout Friday to aid its life, but the Dutchman was unsure that explained the full deficit to the Ferraris.

“The car was good in second practice, but we were a bit down on power compared to what we normally run on Friday. I think that should be fixed for tomorrow,” Verstappen said.

“But still, I think Ferrari will be very fast. I think they will be very hard to beat. We’ll try to be close to Mercedes. We’ll see what happens.

“I think this track definitely suits them a bit better than us. They are very strong. They gain a lot of lap time on the straight here, but I think that’s not a surprise. We just try to do the best we can from our side.

“In general, I am quite happy with the car balance. There are things that can be done better, but overall, it’s not too bad.”

Much of Ferrari’s pace at Spa is down to its engine power advantage, but Red Bull’s supplier, Honda, has made up significant ground across the course of the season.

Asked if the Honda engine was the good surprise of the season so far, Verstappen said: “Overall yes, we have been quite surprising I think to many people, but we have to keep pushing.

“Those races are done, we’ve got to move forward and become better and become more competitive.”

 

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