The Red Bull driver goes into Sunday’s race holding a five-point lead over main rival Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ title race but will start from the back of the grid at Sochi as a result of an engine penalty.

Hamilton finds himself with a huge opportunity to reclaim the championship lead but could only take fourth in an error-strewn qualifying session in which he failed to capitalise on Verstappen’s situation by taking pole position.

Asked how much progress he realistically expects to make from 20th, Verstappen replied: “I don’t know. It depends on the first lap, on things that happen in the race.

“Of course I try to score points but I need a bit of help with things going a bit wrong at the front, so let’s see.

“At the end of the day you need to do it on your own,” he added. “Whatever happens in the front, anyway, I’m not involved in that.”

A pair of crashes for Hamilton opened the door for McLaren’s Lando Norris to snatch a shock pole ahead of the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz and George Russell’s Williams after the trio gambled on slick tyres as the track rapidly dried out in the final five minutes of Q3.

Verstappen acknowledged that the top three has worked out “maybe a little bit better” for his own race prospects, although the Dutchman does not expect the top three to halt Hamilton’s charge for long.

“I think in general it made the qualifying quite exciting,” he said. “You saw people going for slicks when the track was not quite ready but they were hoping for the track to improve and yeah, it was a nice top three I would say.

"I don’t expect George to stay there very long with the pace they have in the dry, but at least maybe at the start and the first few laps it will make it a bit more interesting at the start.

“I guess they [will] race as hard as they can to defend their positions but I just have to focus on my own race and try to get to the front, and then we’ll see what happens.”