Max Verstappen was delighted by how much Red Bull had gained on their rivals this weekend.

Verstappen was disappointed to drop over a second off the pace of Ferrari and Mercedes at Sochi. But new upgrades fitted to the RB13 seem to have put them back in touching distance of their rivals at Barcelona.

“To be only six tenths off is a massive improvement,” said Verstappen after qualifying in fifth place for the Spanish Grand Prix.

“Big congratulations to the team for giving me such a good car because last qualifying was one and a half seconds.

“The car was working really well,” he enthused. “The car had the best balance I’ve had this season so far.

“The whole weekend we were finding a little bit the balance with the new package. I think we made the right changes for qualifying.”

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Verstappen out-qualified his teammate Daniel Ricciardo for only the second time this season. The Australian will start alongside him on the third row of the grid from sixth place.

“That was a very good qualifying,” said Verstappen. “It went very smoothly and we had no issues and I think the lap was spot on.

“I was very pleased with the balance today,” he continued. “I was able to get comfortable. It resulted in a good combination and successful qualifying.

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“It is a good step forward and has given us a solid platform to build on for the rest of the season. As always we will keep pushing and try to close the gap even more.”

Verstappen was also feeling boosted by returning to the scene of his maiden Grand Prix victory one year ago.

“It’s always nice to come back,” he said. “I have driven a lot of laps here and it has been kind to me.

“I’ve driven it a lot on the simulator already, but the shape of the track just suits me quite well.

“There’s a lot of Dutch fans around the track as well, it’s just a nice atmosphere,” he added. “Like we saw last year, you never know what can happen on race day here. Our long run pace looks ok so let’s wait and see.”

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GALLERY: All the action from Barcelona on Saturday

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