Verstappen hopes for ace up sleeve against "different level" Mercedes
Max Verstappen is hoping Red Bull has played a tactical masterstroke in qualifying that will allow him to pull off a third successive Formula 1 victory in Austria.
Verstappen will start from third on the grid at the Red Bull Ring after finishing half-a-second behind Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, a seismic gap around what is the shortest track on the calendar in terms of lap time.
But the race may yet to come to Verstappen, who will be the only driver in the top 10 starting on the medium compound tyre compared to the soft runners around him.
"I'm happy to be P3," said Verstappen. "But also we have a different starting tyre, so it's going to be interesting, and it's going to be quite a bit warmer tomorrow, so I hope that's going to play to our advantage."
The race was run in sweltering conditions last season when Verstappen triumphed by being on fresher tyres late on compared to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, with the heat badly affecting Mercedes.
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"Last year we were always a little bit off in qualifying so I expect to be a bit better in the race," added Verstappen.
"I'm the only one on a different tyre in the top 10, I'm just looking forward to it, we have nothing to lose. I'll try to make it as difficult as possible for them.
"But clearly today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Let's see how we can do tomorrow."
Team principal Christian Horner also feels the tyre battle and the weather could play into Red Bull's hands.
“Mercedes gave a dominant performance today, but it was also a positive start for us, with Max qualifying in P3 and Alex [Albon] in P5," said Horner.
"We made a brave strategy decision resulting in Max being the only driver in the top 10 to start on the medium tyre, which provides us with many strategic options for the race.
"The temperatures are also due to increase tomorrow which helped us take the win last year so that gives us the confidence to take the fight to Mercedes."
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