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

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Max Verstappen believes Red Bull still has work to do over one lap if it is to make the most of its strong race pace in China.

Verstappen ended Friday practice in Shanghai 0.341s off Hamilton's fastest time. Like in Bahrain, Red Bull showed a better turn of pace during the race simulations at the backend of the session.

"Yeah it was good,'' Verstappen said. "The pace, especially on the long runs, was pretty good. I was happy with that and the car was behaving quite well there. Short runs I think we can still improve a little bit but no big problems so that's good."

The Dutchman believes extracting the maximum performance from his Red Bull in qualifying on the ultra-softs is the biggest challenge this weekend, but he isn't concerned if he is unable to qualify ahead of either of the Mercedes or Ferraris.

"Well we have to get a really good qualifying in but in general even when that doesn't happen I think in the race we will be competitive and in this track you can overtake."

Verstappen had a minor scare in FP1, spinning off into the gravel trap at the final corner. He revealed it was similar to his spin in the first part of qualifying in Bahrain, which resulted in him ending qualifying in the barriers on the exit of Turn 2.

"The tyres were still not totally ready but also it was a similar story to Bahrain. So I changed the mapping and in second practice it was good."