Verstappen: Red Bull have ‘made a big step forward’ after strong Q3 in Austin

AUSTIN, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Third place qualifier Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull

0.067s. That's what separated Max Verstappen from P3 and pole position for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas. And while the Red Bull driver was disappointed to miss out, he took heart from the performance, which he says shows the team have ‘made a big step forward’…

Verstappen took pole in Mexico last time out before being stripped of the position for ignoring yellow flags. It compounded a miserable run in qualifying that had seen him fail to start inside the top three since Hungary before the summer break, seven races ago.

But in Austin, he hooked up a strong lap to just miss out to Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel completing the front row.

“Q3 was a bit more of a difficult session than Q2 - I found the grip was maybe not the same but of course that’s the same for everyone,” said Verstappen. “It was just a bit harder to get your lap out and I think in general it is very positive for us to be that close in qualifying.

“Compared to last year we made a really big step forward and in the last two races we’ve been a lot more competitive, so that’s very positive. We are definitely improving and learning and also looking ahead for next year and we are definitely going in the right direction.

“In general I’m very pleased, the whole weekend has been smooth and we didn’t really have a lot of trouble with set-up or whatever, so to be here in the top three - of course I would like to be sat in the middle - but it’s still been very positive.”

READ MORE: Vettel - Good start from P2 ‘crucial’ for victory chances in Austin

Qualifying: Hamilton and Verstappen almost collide in traffic

There was a squabble between Hamilton, Verstappen and Kvyat in the final few corners as they fought for track position in Q2. The stewards noted the incident, but chose not to investigate.

When asked for his view of the incident, Verstappen said: “We were all lining up to do our lap to get to the last corner and I think it was Seb in the first Ferrari then Charles and then I had Daniil [Kvyat] in front of me and we were all just slowing down to make space.

“Then Lewis just drove by like nobody was there and didn’t care. So I was like ‘well if you don’t care, I don’t care’ so I tried to get my position back because everybody is just respecting each other at that point just to start the lap, that’s why it was such a close call.”

Max Verstappen: 'A good weekend' overall so far



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HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from a busy first practice session in Monte Carlo as Zhou hits the wall