Max Verstappen is more excited about Red Bull’s pace at the United States Grand Prix than he was in Mexico as says it confirms his team’s recovery.

Red Bull struggled to be a threat in qualifying at Singapore, Russia and Japan, having been targeting strong performances in at least two of the three, but bounced back with the fastest time in qualifying in Mexico. Although Verstappen lost pole position last weekend due to a grid penalty, he believes his third place in Austin on Saturday is of more significance.

“Of course Mexico was very good but we also expected it to be competitive,” Verstappen said. “Of course the races before that were not like we wanted so and it was a case of seeing if we found the performance back and clearly this weekend was very positive for us.

“I think we can be very happy about it. It’s a good effort from the team not to just give up and to keep pushing and try to find the performance back like we had before the break.”

After qualifying 0.067s off pole position, not only is Verstappen happy with what the performance means for this season but also what it suggests for 2020.

“I think Q3 was a bit more of a difficult session than Q2 for example” Verstappen said. “I found the grip was maybe not the same but of course that’s the same for everyone. It was just a bit harder to get your lap out and I think in general it is very positive for us to be that close in qualifying.

“Compared to last year, we made a really big step forward and in the last two races we’ve been a lot more competitive, so that’s very positive. I think we are definitely improving and learning and also looking ahead for next year and we are definitely going in the right direction.

“In general I’m very pleased. The whole weekend has been smooth and we didn’t really have a lot of trouble with set-up or whatever, so to be here in the top three – of course I would like to be sat in the middle – but it’s still been very positive.”

There was one scare for Verstappen during qualifying when he was overtaking by Lewis Hamilton late in his out lap in Q2, and then went off track trying to re-pass the Mercedes as Hamilton in turn overtook Daniil Kvyat, an incident that was noted but not investigated.

“We were all lining up to do our lap to get to the last corner and I think it was Seb (Vettel) in the first Ferrari then Charles (Leclerc) and then I had Daniil in front of me and we were all just slowing down to make space. Then Lewis just drove by like nobody was there and didn’t care. So I was like ‘well if you don’t care, I don’t care.’ So I tried to get my position back because everybody is just respecting each other at that point just to start the lap, that’s why it was such a close call.”

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