Max Verstappen says he can still challenge for a points finish in the Italian Grand Prix despite starting 15th on the grid due to his engine penalties, after the Dutch driver almost produced a bittersweet pole position.

Having been strong throughout qualifying during the changeable conditions, with intensifying rain transforming Q3, Verstappen was on provisional pole as the chequered flag dropped but knowing Lewis Hamilton would also be quick in the wet he was powerless to see the Mercedes drive grab pole back to take the outright record of career F1 pole with 69.

Despite taking second in qualifying Verstappen is expected to start 15th on the grid due to his 15-place grid penalties, which is altered by other drivers who also have grid penalties, and accepts his pace in the dry means he’ll struggle to replicate his qualifying result.

“I think I start from 15th tomorrow,” Verstappen said. “It was quite a good qualifying and everything was working well, in Q3 I was perhaps not as happy with the car as I was in Q1 and Q2 as I was sliding around more and couldn’t get the grip in the last sector.

“My engineer said Hamilton was going purple so to be second here at the end of the day with the car and package we have means we did a very good job. It was nice to drive in the wet again.

“It is not a great starting position but in terms of pace we can get back into the points. It is a bit of a shame for me that Williams and Force India are starting that far up which means they could gain time on the first few laps on us. We will try our best and see where it all ends up.”

 

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