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Verstappen says he has a ‘good chance’ of challenging Italian GP pole-sitter Leclerc for victory on Sunday

Championship leader Max Verstappen risks a five-place grid penalty for the 2022 Italian Grand Prix. But the Red Bull driver said he was not impressed and supported himself to challenge for victory at Monza on Sunday.

Verstappen qualified second ahead of Charles Leclerc, who took pole with 0.145s and will not drop the order – unlike the nine drivers, including Verstappen, who have grid penalties to their name this weekend. The Dutchman may have failed in qualifying but said he is looking forward to battling for what would be his fifth win in a row.

READ MORE: Leclerc takes pole position for 2022 Italian Grand Prix with Russell to join him on the front row

“With what I’ve seen from the long runs, things are looking good from our side; I just need to have a clean lap 1, clear the cars between us pretty quickly, and I think we still have a good chance here,” said the Red Bull driver.

“I think the round [in Q3] was reasonable. Only the first sector, we seemed to be a little slow, and probably [lacking] a bit of straight-line speed, a bit of the first chicane, not finding the right grip. But I think the rest of the lap felt pretty strong overall. ”

Leclerc starts on pole and looks set to add to his 2019 Italian Grand Prix victory

The reigning champion explained that Red Bull had opted for a slightly higher downforce package than their rivals, which could help the RB18s find some speed on Sunday.

“Obviously we picked the downforce levels – a bit higher compared to some of the other cars, but it felt good and of course qualifying to race here can always feel a bit different, and my race runs, they felt really good, so very happy with that pace I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race.

“[Higher downforce] should normally be better for tire grades, and hopefully we can show that tomorrow. ”

READ MORE: Binotto responds to Ferrari chairman comments he expects Scuderia title ‘before 2026’


Perez has a 10-place grid drop, Verstappen a five-place drop, ahead of Sunday’s race at Monza

Team-mate Sergio Perez has a 10-place grid penalty that will lower him in the rankings after qualifying from P4. The Mexican said Red Bull was not surprised by Ferrari’s pace, but hoped – like Verstappen – that race pace could help them overhaul the Scuderia on Sunday.

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“Yes, we were sure they [Ferrari] would be here very soon, and yes, it’s not much of a surprise. I think they will be strong in the race as well, so they will be hard to beat, especially where we will start,” said Perez.

“But I think it’s a lot closer in the race and hopefully we can control our strategy well and be in the mix tomorrow.”

Verstappen has never made it to a podium at Monza, while Perez’s last top three finish came here with Sauber in 2012. On Sunday, Red Bull drivers hope to take the podium as they push their team to the titles.

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