Max Verstappen has indicated that Ferrari’s pace will be stronger at this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix after Red Bull’s domination in Belgium.
Spa Francorchamps is very much a power track and, due to the excellent chassis of the RB18 and the sublime power delivered by the Honda engine, the track was expected to suit Red Bull more than their Italian counterparts.
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were initially quicker in first practice, but Red Bull pegged them back over the rest of the weekend, with Verstappen eventually taking pole by six tenths from the Spaniard.
Both Verstappen and Leclerc stared further down the order because of grid penalties, and the Monegasque’s race was ruined by a rogue tear-off from the reigning champion’s visor, followed by a penalty for speeding in the pit lane during a late stop.
He finished sixth, with Sainz third, a long way back from Verstappen who, from 14th on the grid, took just 18 laps to make his way into first ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez.
The Milton Keynes-based side took their fourth one-two of the season, and Ferrari had been utterly blown away by their rivals’ pace.
However, Sainz stated his optimism after the race that the pace deficit in Spa was a “one-off” for his team, so had no concerns about the Scuderia’s competitiveness in the Netherlands.
The Zandvoort Circuit features less straights, and more corners that require downforce, so Verstappen agrees that the F1-75 car should come back into its own this weekend.
“After the successful weekend we’ve had in Spa, I’m really looking forward to the Dutch GP,” he said ahead of his home race.
“There’s a lot more downforce required at the track in Zandvoort so it will be harder for us to be dominant, I expect Ferrari to be strong there.
“I, of course, want a good result but it’s important to always score points, let’s hope we can do a good job.
“It will be great to have my family there supporting me, I’m just going to enjoy the weekend with all the fans, it’s going to be pretty crazy.”
Verstappen has designed a special helmet honouring his father, Jos, ahead of this year’s race, and will try to win his home event for the second year running.
The 24-year-old leads Perez by 93 points in the Drivers’ Standings, and Red Bull are 118 in front of Ferrari heading into round 15.