Max Verstappen has conceded Mercedes are ‘on a different level’ as he made do with third position in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix but hopes his joker of a different race strategy will play him into contention.

As Red Bull feared, Mercedes were able to dial up the performance of the W11 when it mattered in Q3 with both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton easing under the existing lap record by breaking into the 1m 02secs bracket.

That left Verstappen standing more than half a second behind and conceding the Red Bull RB16 didn’t have the pace to match them.



Nonetheless, Verstappen does head into the race with one weapon in his armoury having rolled the dice by setting his fastest Q2 time on the medium compound tyre that he will now start tomorrow’s race on.

Allowing him more strategy options, he also hopes the warmer weather forecast for race day will play to his strengths.

“I am happy first of all to be P3 but also we’ve a different starting tyre. It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be quite a bit warmer tomorrow so I hope it plays in our advantage. Today, Mercedes was on a different level unfortunately but let’s see what we can do tomorrow.

“Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we’re a bit better in the race. Now I am the only one on a different tyre in the top ten so I am just looking forward to it. We have nothing to lose so I try to make it as difficult as possible for them.”