Max Verstappen felt he could have challenged the frontrunners during Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix had he not been caught up in a first corner incident.

The Red Bull driver recovered from the back of the grid to eighth at Monza but his progress was halted by an early collision with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, which led to front-wing damage on his RB15 that required him to pit for a replacement.

Verstappen recovered well through the field and was encouraged by the strong performance of his Honda-powered Red Bull at a circuit the team expected to struggle at compared to its rivals.

“I could have fought with the guys in the front,” Verstappen said when asked what he felt could have been achieved without contact at the start.

“I could see them on the screen. I was following my progression. Of course I knew their lap times, but I was not losing.

“Of course when you get in traffic you lose time, but all the time I was in free air, they were not faster.

“It's very promising on a track where you are normally not that competitive.”

Speaking about the first turn incident with Perez, Verstappen said it felt like “everything almost stood still” before he made contact with the Mexican.

“It was not even late braking, I was just following, following, and suddenly everything almost stood still,” he explained.

“I tried to avoid it but I still clipped I think Sergio on the rear wheel. I think the front wing was a bit down, so we boxed.

“The race was still on. I think we had good pace. I got through quite a lot of cars, but then again I got stuck behind Sergio, they have such a high top speed, I had no chance to get by. I think the car performed good.

“Again, unlucky with the Virtual Safety Car again, two or three cars overtook me in the pit stop because of that. The whole race, everything was just against us. It doesn't work out.

“Sometimes starting at the back works out brilliantly like in Austin last year, but you can't expect it to be like that all the time of course. Today was about surviving, trying to score a few points, we did that.

“But I’m really looking forward to now starting at the front again for Singapore. We've had our penalties and hopefully also our trouble. From now on we can just focus on performance.”

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