Red Bull must close the gap on Mercedes further in qualifying – Verstappen

Red Bull is getting closer to Mercedes but is not yet ready to challenge for the Formula One title, according to Max Verstappen.

Max Verstappen celebrates Red Bull's win at the Germany Grand Prix   -  Getty Images

Max Verstappen believes Red Bull is gradually closing the gap on Mercedes but insists his team is still too far away from the Formula One champions.

Verstappen sits third in the driver standings, behind Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

While Bottas is 22 points ahead following Verstappen's victory at the German Grand Prix, Hamilton remains out of reach for now.

The defending champion holds a 63-point lead over Verstappen heading into the Hungarian Grand Prix, and though the Belgian has won two out of the last three races, the 21-year-old knows there is still plenty of work to do before Red Bull can truly compete.

"Like I said in Hockenheim, it's too early to say anything about that," said Verstappen, who has been linked with a move to Mercedes for 2022.

"We absolutely must improve further. We must first close the gap further, especially in qualifying. We are getting closer, but at the moment we are still too far away. 

"As soon as we are in the right position in the qualifications, the races will also look different. 

"As a team, we are very strong in coming up with good strategies and we are very good at carrying out pit stops, as you have seen in Germany. Those things can make a big difference if we start a little further forward."

While Verstappen triumphed in Germany, Mercedes had a poor day on its home race, with Bottas crashing out and Hamilton struggling.

Team boss Toto Wolf is expecting a reaction but he knows Verstappen and Red Bull will once again be in the mix.

"Sunday was painful for us. We made mistakes, made the wrong decisions and left Germany with only two points in our pocket," he said. 

"However, this makes Formula One so beautiful because it gives us challenges to improve. On Sunday we felt pain, but on Monday we felt united in our determination to make our weaknesses our strengths.

"In recent years Hungaroring has been a challenge for us, but last year we managed to win.

"If we look at the competition, Ferrari will be strong, as they are good on short, curvy circuits. But I also expect Red Bull, who won two of the last three races with Verstappen, to challenge."

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