Formula One: Progress delights Max Verstappen

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen sits in the pits during the third practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2017 in Montmelo.
Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen sits in the pits during the third practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2017 in Montmelo.PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA (AFP) - Max Verstappen believes Red Bull have taken a significant step forward with their upgrade package at the Spanish Grand Prix and can close the gap on Mercedes and Ferrari.

The 19-year-old Dutchman, who won last year's race, qualified in fifth place only six-tenths of a second behind pole man Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

"Absolutely, we have gone forward," he said. "The car was the best I've had all season so I am very happy. It was a good qualifying.

"To come from one second to six-tenths is a massive step already and now we just need to keep pushing on the car side and see what comes from the engine."

His Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo qualified sixth and will share the third row of the grid with him at the start of Sunday's (May 14) race.

 

He won last year's contest after the two Mercedes of eventual champion, now retired, Nico Rosberg and Hamilton collided on the opening lap.

Asked if he felt he could win again, he said: "If the four other cars all have a shunt, yes!"