Max Verstappen encouraged by 'very strong' Red Bull race pace

Mark Sutton/Sutton Images

Max Verstappen says Red Bull's race pace is "very strong" despite a mixed opening day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.4s slower than the fastest Ferrari in the FP2 qualifying simulations, which suggested the Italian team will be best of the rest on Saturday. Though Red Bull seemed strongest on the long runs Verstappen thinks Red Bull can pull closer on one-lap pace.

Evaluating Red Bull's short- and long-term pace, Verstappen said: "I think both were not too bad. The first one you just build up to it, especially with the new tarmac, you have to get to grips with it with the car but I think it was a positive day. Short runs can be a bit better but I think the long runs, they look very strong."

When asked what Red Bull needed to find overnight, he replied: "Just a bit more in the short run. I think we can be happy."

Verstappen is confident there is plenty of pace for Red Bull to unlock in time for qualifying.

"I think the pace on the softs was pretty good for me so I felt like there was quite some lap time in it so I was happy, especially in the long run. I felt like I could do what I want with the car, I could throw it into the corner like I wanted to and still the pace was there. I think that's always positive."