Verstappen finished a lonely fourth at Circuit Paul Ricard but in qualifying classified just 0.009s ahead of Lando Norris, and had to repel Carlos Sainz Jr. on the opening lap of the race.
“You could see lap one we were clearly missing some top speed to the top guys,” said Verstappen. “Even the McLarens behind were very quick on the straight. We definitely need to make a bigger step on the engine.
“You can see Renault over one lap have a quite powerful quali mode or whatever they use in lap one. “Afterwards they have to back it out of course and you can see they are not a threat anymore but over one lap we can definitely improve.”
Verstappen heads to Red Bull’s home event having already reached 100 points for the season and last year secured victory for the outfit. But Verstappen doubts he will be in a position to pull off a repeat result.
“[It will] not [be] much better than this weekend to be realistic, but we’ll see,” he said.
“There’s still a lot of straights and not many corners to really gain a lot, if you gain something, as at the moment I don’t think we’re really superior [in corners].”