Max Verstappen played down his pace-setting time from Friday’s second practice session in Belgium, believing Mercedes will again take pole position, while expecting Red Bull’s fight to be with Racing Point.
Verstappen ended the second practice session in Belgium as the fastest driver, leading Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton, who were less than a tenth of a second behind.
Mercedes has taken pole position at every race weekend so far in 2020, and are strong favourites ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.
“I personally think they [Mercedes] are still struggling a bit with the balance so I expect them to be stronger tomorrow,” Verstappen said.
“You can see already in the long runs they are very competitive. I’m not expecting to be fighting for pole position but if we can be a bit closer that would be good.
”For us, it was of course important to run in the dry. If it rains it rains, it’s the same for everyone.
“From the start we were pretty happy so that of course helps to work on further things with the car.
“The car seems to handle well. Of course, it’s early days but from our side it’s a good start. Still some things to work on for tomorrow, but overall, I’m pretty happy.”
When asked how much of a challenge he expects from Racing Point on Saturday, Verstappen replied: “I think they will be very close. So it will be tricky with them in qualifying, but then in the race it should be alright.”
Verstappen’s team-mate Alexander Albon was fourth fastest after FP2, just under four tenths of a second slower.
“From the very first lap the car felt strong,” he said after FP2.
”We brought some things here this weekend and it’s making the car gel a little bit better, through corners [the] balance feels good as well. So I’m happy that it’s progressing in the right way.”