Max Verstappen did not feel he had “missed out” on pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix – despite being pipped by a tiny margin.

The Dutchman was only 0.036sec slower than Sir Lewis Hamilton in Q3 as the 2021 battle between Mercedes and Red Bull proved as tight as ever at the Circuit de Cataluyna-Barcelona.

But although Verstappen had got agonisingly close to denying Hamilton his 100th pole position in Formula 1, he was full of positives about his performance having felt he had extracted the maximum potential from his car.

“The laps were actually very good,” Verstappen told Sky F1, referring to Q3. “I was very happy with the lap time I did.

“Of course it was so close, so you can be like ‘oh, I missed out on pole’, but I don’t think I missed out on pole because from my side I think I really got the most out of the car.

“For us to be on the front row here, compared to last year when we really got destroyed here, we can be very happy with that.”

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Verstappen has been outscored two victories to one by Hamilton so far this season to sit eight points behind the seven-time World Champion in the Drivers’ title race, but thinks he will have chances to level up that tally – especially if he can take the lead after the lights go out.

“We’ll of course give it our best, but first we need a good start and it’s a long way to Turn 1 as well so we’ll see what happens there,” said the 23-year-old, who took the chequered flag at this race in 2016 on his debut for Red Bull to become F1’s youngest winner.

“We’ll need decent pace in the race, which I think we have. If it’s enough to beat them [Mercedes] I don’t know but hopefully it will be as close as it was today.

“Our worst starts this season were still pretty decent, so I think that’s a good improvement over last year. I hope we can have a good one tomorrow.”

Verstappen added to Formula 1: “You always have to accept when it’s not enough and today it was just not enough. But I still managed to squeeze in between them [the Mercedes], so I’m happy with that.

“A front-row start, a lot of opportunities for tomorrow, so I hope we can have a good race.”

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