Max Verstappen feels he can attack from the front of the second row after qualifying third for the Canadian Grand Prix as he eyes up a victory shot having demonstrated impressive race pace for Red Bull.

The Dutch driver came into the weekend surrounded by criticisms after being involved in six clashes at the past six rounds, while he said he might “headbutt someone” during the FIA press conference responding to questions on his high-profile incidents.

Having topped all three free practice sessions in Montreal, Verstappen qualified third fastest behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas – putting his drop in speed down to Renault’s lack of top speed – but is “very happy” to start from the front of row two.

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“We extracted the best we could out of qualifying,” Verstappen said. “We knew in Q3 it would be a bit harder for us but to be still so close was good.

“The car all weekend has been really strong, every session we made progress with the car and I’m feeling confident on the track. I’m very happy.

“I think we have a really good car. We knew that in Q3 and in general throughout the whole year with the car, we’re just lacking power. We’re trying to compensate for that. I think it showed in Monaco that we have a great car and again here. With the long straights, it’s hard to fight for pole position.

Verstappen also holds strong faith in Red Bull’s race pace to take the fight to Ferrari and Mercedes as he aims to use his alternative strategy starting on the Hypersoft tyres with his closest rivals on the Ultrasoft compounds to start the race.

“In the race, it all calms down a bit, which is why in general we are always a bit more competitive,” he said.

Verstappen recovered from a back of the grid start to take ninth place in Monaco following his FP3 crash which forced him out of qualifying last time out.



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