Last-minute setup changes saved our day, says Verstappen

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Championship runaway leader Max Verstappen has been in contention for pole position, but he missed out on another first starting position by just 20 thousands of a second.

Verstappen had a promising Friday practice day, but he needed to take another step to fine-tune the balance of his RB20.

The Dutchman said that his car behaved much better in qualifying, but he still missed out on pole position by a fraction.

"We made some good set up changes going into qualifying and the car was a lot better. I think we really maximised that and the car felt more connected and nice to drive.

"We were strong into the high speed and I felt really comfortable there and the high speed corners were really quick. We have had a clean weekend and have been fine tuning the car throughout the week.

"During the practice session I felt like we were not the quickest out there but qualifying felt really good.

"McLaren were quick the whole weekend and we have been a little bit behind them, so we need to look at what we can do to optimise the performance tomorrow and be more competitive.

Expanding on the prospects for today's race, Verstappen expects a multi-team battle: "Looking to tomorrow, I think it will be very tight; it will be about how we approach the tyres, especially with the high degradation.

"It will be a close and exciting race tomorrow. We need to analyse a few things but qualifying has been good so we can aim to fight for the win," noted the Dutchman.

His team-mate Sergio Perez was struggling for pace during the three practice sessionss but he has made slight gains when it came to qualifying.

However, with the sharp end of the field having been so closely matched, the Mexican could only secure P8 which will only be a P11 starting position on the grid due to his three-place grid drop penalty that he was handed after the Canadian Grand Prix.

“I am not happy with my position today, the target was to be higher up. It was a tricky qualifying, we struggled initially and we burned through the tyres quickly unfortunately, which meant we weren’t able to extract the maximum out of it.

"My final lap wasn’t as clean as it needed to be in Q3, I didn’t have enough of a rhythm or a pace. We needed more of a progression through the session and we didn’t have that, we will work hard to have that for the race. We have made some good changes so we should be on the right track for Sunday.

"It will be a difficult race from P11 with the grid penalty and it will be very important to be patient and get the right opportunities, especially if it’s wet because anything can happen.

"We have to be ready to be out there when it matters. Hopefully we are able to secure some good points and take them away from our rivals"