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    Dakar Rally News: Verstappen Urges Red Bull to Bring More Performance After Narrowly Missing Spanish GP Pole

    Reigning Formula 1 World Champion Max Verstappen has called on his Red Bull team to deliver more performance upgrades to their car after being pipped to pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix by McLaren’s Lando Norris.

    Verstappen and Red Bull were the pre-event favorites heading to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, a circuit that has historically played to the strengths of the energy drink-backed squad. However, the Dutchman was left frustrated as Norris snatched pole position away from him by just 0.020 seconds.

    “I have been saying for weeks that we need to bring more performance to our car and everyone in the team knows that as well,” Verstappen said. “So far, it looks like everyone around us is bringing more updates than we do. Of course we have to work on that, we find more performance for our own car as well.”

    The world champion went on to express his concerns about Red Bull’s relative competitiveness, noting that the gap to his teammate Sergio Perez was “pretty big” and that he had been required to drive at 101% to compensate for the car’s shortcomings in recent races.

    “At the moment we just lack some speed,” Verstappen admitted. “If you have to drive at 101% every single time, then of course it will go wrong one day.”

    While Verstappen dismissed suggestions from Mercedes that Red Bull’s latest upgrades may have been a downgrade, he acknowledged that other teams, particularly McLaren, have been making more substantial gains in performance. The Woking-based squad has emerged as a consistent threat at the front of the grid, with Norris’s pole position highlighting their strong pace on a circuit that has traditionally favored Red Bull.

    “Looking at Friday, I thought McLaren looked very strong. They are just good everywhere now. On every type of track, in the long runs and they handle the tyres well too. They just built a strong package,” Verstappen said.

    With multiple teams now in the mix at the front of the field, Verstappen knows that the battle for victory in Spain will come down to the fine details, particularly when it comes to tire management. As the season progresses, the pressure will be on Red Bull to step up their development efforts and ensure Verstappen has the tools to defend his world championship title.

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