Without underestimating the strong competition from those behind, Max Verstappen nonetheless believes Toro Rosso is better placed than ever to compete with its main rivals in the Spanish Grand Prix.

The young Dutchman played his part in Toro Rosso's impressive qualifying effort at the Circuit de Catalunya, joining team-mate Carlos Sainz on the third row of the grid by out-performing Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and both Red Bulls.

With Toro Rosso showing consistently strongly all weekend, Verstappen believes the third row is a representation of where the team is challenging and is 'very confident' that the car has the pace to keep them behind in the race too.

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"When we had these [good grid] positions before. There was always one Williams, or two Lotuses, of the Ferrari behind us and that's the same thing now but I think in terms of performance we're looking much stronger than the other races we've had so far compared the guys behind us.

"I'm very confident for the race. Fifth and sixth will be hard but on this track, it's difficult to overtake and we're very strong in the fast corners. So if they can stay behind us for a few laps, we can kill their tyres."

Indeed, Verstappen believes it is the Toro Rosso's strength in high-speed corners that has enabled it to emerge as a surprise front-runner in Spain.

"It's just aero performance, the car... every track we've been to, we're one of the fastest in high-speed corners, sometimes very close to Mercedes. So we were always confident this track would be good for us, but this good we did not expect it."

Verstappen has scored in just one race so far this season, when he finished seventh at the Malaysian Grand Prix.