Red Bull arrived at the Belgian GP with low expectations as the high-speed Spa track does not favour the strengths of its Renault power unit. Despite to that the Austrian-based company has showed strong pace so far over the weekend.
Red Bull feared before the weekend that Renault’s power deficit which it estimated of around 47 bhp to field-leading Mercedes would hamper its steady progress it has showed over the last race weekends.
The Austrian squad, however, presented itself in a strong position as of the second practice session and could maintain its strong pace throughout Saturday’s actions.
Despite to the fact that Max Verstappen was struck by gearbox problems in the last practice session, the Dutch sensation managed to seal the second position on the grid and got beaten by just over a tenth by pole-sitter Nico Rosberg.
“It’s a great feeling. As soon as I crossed the line in Q3 on my fastest lap, I could see the fans going really wild so I knew it was a good lap. It’s been already an amazing weekend. To see so many fans around the track and feel their support is incredible and I’ve been enjoying the whole week a lot, so to be second on the grid is fantastic.”
“It would have been very difficult to get pole position. The chance is always there if you are that close and in sector two we were very strong, but we were missing some top speed. Tomorrow will be very interesting with the different strategies between us, Mercedes and Ferrari so I think it’ll be a good fight.”
Verstappen opted for a different strategy to his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who got through the second qualifying session on softs which could enable him to complete a longer first stint in Sunday’s race. However, the Dutchman is hopeful that his strategy will be the best way to approach the Belgian GP.
“Hopefully the supersofts will give me a bit more grip in the first few laps and then for sure I will drop off a bit but that’s my strategy. I will probably have to pit a bit earlier but we have to wait and see how the race goes. Big thanks to the team for such a quick turnaround and working so hard on getting me out on time in Qualifying,” concluded the 18-year old.
Daniel Ricciardo denied that he was disappointed with his qualifying result as tomorrow’s race could open up many opportunities to improve. Indeed, he is pleased that he could squeeze himself through on softs in the second qualifying session which also decides which compound the top 10 drivers have to start on.
“In Q3 I would have loved to have got a bit more out of it, but I’m not too disappointed looking at the race tomorrow. I’m really pleased I got through on the softs in Q2, that was our objective, whether it works tomorrow or not let’s see, but that’s what I wanted to get out of it,” stated Ricciardo right after the qualifying.
“I’d be less happy with P5 on some tracks, but I’m not disappointed for two reasons: you can overtake here and with the tyres we’ve got this weekend, you can do a lot during the race tomorrow. If you can have a faster car or if you can be a bit more intelligent, then it can pay off. In Q2 my objective was to start on the softs. It was a nervous few minutes but we did it. I’m happy; it’s close enough to the front and I’m on the softs, sure a few cars in front have them too, but it’s going to be a good race,” added the Australian.