Max Verstappen: Red Bull race pace looks 'very strong'

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Max Verstappen thinks Red Bull's race pace looks "very strong" despite being some way off Ferrari and Mercedes over one lap in Friday practice.

Verstappen missed much of the opening session after his right rear brakes caught fire. He returned in FP2 to finish seventh, 0.9s off Sebastian Vettel's session-leading time.

The teenager thinks Red Bull's main focus should be maximising short-run pace on Saturday.

When asked if Red Bull can keep up its recent trend of challenging Mercedes, Verstappen said: "Our race pace was very strong, so we need to look into the short run anyway. After missing the first free practice almost entirely, I was still working a lot on the car, and finally just before the long run I made a final set-up change and that seemed to work pretty well."

Verstappen admits the rear brake fire he suffered left him on the back foot.

Explaining what happened, he said: "It was just a bit unfortunate. I needed to do two install laps, and that just to go out again. They told me just to keep pushing, but I think you can't push on your in lap. And all in all with this combination there was a little bit of fire.

"I think in the race you cannot slow down on your in lap. But it will be tough [with brakes]. This track is always challenging, like it was last year, so we have wait and see how they hold on."