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Formula 1: Verstappen says he has a "good chance" at Monza despite grid penalty

Monza (Italy), Sep 10 (IANS) Despite dropping down the starting order due to five grid penalties, championship leader Max Verstappen is unfazed by the situation and feels he can still challenge pole sitter Charles Leclerc for the title in Sunday’s race.

Verstappen qualified second to Leclerc, who took pole by 0.145s and will not drop down the order — unlike the nine drivers, including Verstappen, who have grid penalties to their names this weekend. The Dutch driver said he is looking forward to battling for what would be his fifth-straight victory.

“With what I’ve seen from the long runs, it looks good from our side; I just need to have a clean Lap 1, clear the cars in between us quite quickly, and I think we still have a good chance here,” said the Red Bull driver.

“I think the lap [in Q3] was pretty decent. Just the first sector, we seemed to be a little bit slow, and probably [lacking] a bit of straight-line speed, a bit of the first chicane, not finding the right grip. But I think overall, the rest of the lap felt pretty strong.”

Verstappen said Red Bull had chosen a slightly higher downforce package than those of their rivals, which could help the RB18s find some pace on Sunday.

“We chose of course the downforce levels – a bit higher compared to some other cars, but it felt alright and of course around here, qualifying to race can always feel a bit different, and my race runs, they felt really good, so very happy with that pace. I’m actually really looking forward to the race tomorrow.

“[Higher downforce] should normally be better for tyre deg, and hopefully we can show that tomorrow,” he said.

Verstappen has never finished on the podium at Monza, while Perez’s last top-three finish here came with Sauber in 2012. On Sunday, both drivers will be hoping to make it to the rostrum while pushing their team towards the titles.

–IANS

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