Verstappen concerned by engine performance gap to Ferrari

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing, Chinese Grand Prix
© XPB 

Max Verstappen will start the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix from fifth place on the grid. However he was sounding less than thrilled about the performance of his TAG Heuer-branded Renault power unit this weekend.

His Red Bull team mate suffered a turbocharger failure in FP3, and Verstappen himself complained about his own engine's performance in final practice.

"Every time I push to the limiter I lose speed," he told his race engineer over the team radio. "I’m not sure it’s healthy."

Later in the day during the final round of qualifying, he noted that the engine was "clipping" again when going through turn 7. Overall he was disappointed by how much high-end performance he was losing compared to his rivals.

"I don’t feel like we got the maximum out of the engine in Q3," he complained after qualifying. "I think there would have been some time to find if we had.

"The gap on the straights were a bit bigger than we expected before we came here," he said. "We are losing time on both of the straights which is hard to make up in other areas of the track.

"I think it would be a bad thing if that didn’t frustrate me, right?"

Verstappen ended the session seven tenths off the pole time set by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. However he was much closer to the two Mercedes drivers, who were also finding it tough going in Shanghai this weekend.

"It wasn't too bad compared with [Mercedes]," Verstappen told Sky Sports News. "Ferrari were just way too quick.

"Somehow they've found a turbo button on the straight," he continued. "They are really quick, and still in the corners they are reasonably quick.

“We achieved a good car balance and feeling today so I don’t think we could have done too much more. I would say fifth on the grid is quite realistic and where we should have been.

"We knew the corners would be important but it was not enough to make up the difference," he said. "They [Ferrari] have just found a really good package this weekend.

"But in the race we should be closer in terms of top speed, so hopefully that should help us a bit," he added. "They can’t use these engine modes. So based on the long run pace, we can be a lot closer to the guys in front.

"We have a different strategy. It may be a one-stop or possibly a two-stop race and depending on temperatures and degradation.

"Things can change," he noted. we're still not sure. But at least we know that's a bit different to the other guys.

"Hopefully we’ll have a clean start and then we’ll have to see if we can get up the field and secure a podium.

"We have to be positive still. A lot of things can happen."

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