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Verstappen aiming to 'apply pressure' on Mercedes after best-ever Spanish qualifying

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 15: Third placed qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull

Max Verstappen wants to turn his best-ever qualifying position at the Spanish Grand Prix into victory by piling pressure onto polesitter Lewis Hamilton and second-placed Valtteri Bottas, who locked out the front row of the grid for Mercedes.

It could be a similar situation in Spain to last weekend's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix where Verstappen never let up on the Mercedes duo – even when he was told to back off to manage his car and tyres – and uttered the now-famous “I’m not just sitting around like a grandma” line before winning his first Grand Prix of the season.

And with temperatures soaring once more, and the worry of those tyre blistering issues from Silverstone hanging over the Silver Arrows, Verstappen says his best chance is to push them hard once more.

READ MORE: Hamilton beats Bottas to pole in sweltering Spanish GP qualifying as Verstappen takes P3

“I felt happy in the car,” said Verstappen having qualified 0.708s off Hamilton in P3. “I just hope I can apply a bit of pressure. I know it’s very hard to overtake around here, but we’re going to do everything we can to be close to them and try to make it a bit difficult.”

The Dutchman, whose last pole position was at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix where he won an action-packed race, added that he’s become quite accustomed to finishing third this weekend having done so in FP1, FP2 and FP3 and then qualifying.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 14: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red

Red Bull's long run pace and some of that trademark Verstappen "pressure" could be Mercedes' undoing on Sunday

“It seems like I have a subscription to P3 – I think I’ve been P3 the whole weekend,” he joked. “I tried to be as close as possible also and [I’m] pretty happy with my lap. I think we extracted the most out of the car so I think we can’t complain, really.

READ MORE: Stewards say no further action on 'unfortunate' Ocon/Magnussen FP3 shunt

“I think the car was pretty competitive. Of course there are areas where we can do a better job but we are definitely improving the car, which is good.”

This time out, Verstappen and Red Bull haven’t gone for a different strategy to the Mercedes – and indeed the rest of the grid – having started the last race at Silverstone on hard tyres; his rivals on mediums. Now, he’ll start on soft tyres along with the rest of the grid.

Spain 2020

Qualifying results

PositionTeam NameTime
1HAM1:15.584
2BOT1:15.643
3VER1:16.292
4PER1:16.482
5STR1:16.589
View Full Results

“I think the soft tyre is good enough to start the race on. Normally the softest compound is a bit more tricky as it falls apart quite quickly but it’s alright at the track here,” he explained.

Verstappen has won just one of his races from third on the grid – in 2017 at Malaysia – and only one driver has won a Spanish Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya starting third: Michael Schumacher in 1996, for his first Ferrari F1 win. Of course Verstappen's first ever F1 win - in Spain in 2016 - came from fourth on the grid...

READ MORE: Under the skin of Schumacher's first Ferrari winner

On Sunday, the Dutchman is searching for a 10th career win by unlocking Red Bull’s solid long-run pace.

“I felt very happy in the long run yesterday with the balance of the car and the wear of the tyres but tomorrow, again, is a new day and we’ll have to try and show it again. Of course I hope I can be close to them [the Mercedes] and put the pressure on,” he concluded.

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