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Verstappen claims challenging Mercedes in qualifying "unrealistic"

Verstappen claims challenging Mercedes in qualifying "unrealistic"

F1 News

Verstappen claims challenging Mercedes in qualifying "unrealistic"

Verstappen claims challenging Mercedes in qualifying "unrealistic"

Max Verstappen was happy with Red Bull's recovery to claim third on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix sprint after initially struggling in free practice but ruled challenging Mercedes as "unrealistic"

The Dutchman qualified three-tenths down on fastest driver Valtteri Bottas, with title rival Lewis Hamilton slotting into second for the 100km sprint on Saturday.

The long straights at Monza worked to the detriment of Red Bull after the dominant victory achieved by Verstappen at Zandvoort last weekend.

"It wasn't the best but we also know that this track isn't our best track because of the long straights," explained Verstappen.

"Obviously, you try to trim it with the downforce and yeah, third is good. I was actually quite happy when I heard that I was third because in FP1 we were struggling a bit with balance.

"I think we recovered quite well and it would have been unrealistic to hope for more."

Eighteen laps of Monza will provide the chance to leap ahead of Hamilton and Bottas to score a maximum of three points and pole position for Sunday's grand prix.

On his chances, Verstappen said: "Maybe a bit closer but I don't think we can challenge them but you never know what happens so we try to keep the pressure.

"Before [the grand prix], a lot of things can happen so we need to get through [the sprint] cleanly. It is not like Zandvoort where we were really quick so here we just need to try and maximise everything."

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