Red Bull Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen concedes the gains Ferrari has made with its power unit in 2019 makes the team “almost impossible” to beat in qualifying.

Ferrari has been the form team since the summer break and has notched up three victories and five pole positions across the last five races.

Key to its recent resurgence has been its engine performance and the introduction of a successful aerodynamic package in Singapore that helped the team unlock more potential from its SF90 challenger, resulting in strong showings across a variety of circuit types.

“We brought updates, others did too and we didn’t make the performance step like we did last year compared to them,” Verstappen explained in the build-up to this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

“From the Ferrari side, they gained over the year more and more power, just very hard to beat that, even if you have a car that is half a second faster, it’s still almost impossible to beat them in qualifying, as you can see with Mercedes.

“They definitely have the best car compared to them. Still in qualifying, they are lacking lately. It’s insane the speed difference they have.

“We keep pushing from our side to try and gain more power, but the deficit is really big, when we look to Mercedes and Renault, we are looking strong, we’re not lacking that much.

“Mercedes always run more downforce than us, but yeah, we’re close to them. It’s already a good achievement, we just need to keep on pushing.”

Red Bull has been the team to beat in Mexico City in recent years, having claimed the last two victories on offer in 2017 and 2018, while its drivers locked out the front-row of the grid in qualifying last season.

But Verstappen thinks a repeat performance is unlikely this time around.

“This year, from the Honda side, we don’t know how competitive it is going to be,” he admitted.

“Let’s see in practice, this year will be a bit more difficult because I think in comparison to Mercedes and Ferrari this year we are not maybe that far ahead with the car and Ferrari is just super quick on the straights, so it’s hard to gain that time back in the corners, especially in qualifying.

“In the race, they don’t have that amount of power difference, still there is a difference but not that big, so maybe in the race, we’ll have a few more chances.

“Also we need to see how the tyres are going to behave as last year there were big issues with the graining so you couldn’t really push flat out throughout the whole race. This year, the tyres are a bit harder, so hopefully that will help.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli



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