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Verstappen optimistic Red Bull have the race pace to beat Ferrari to victory at Monza

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Max Verstappen was not too concerned by Ferrari’s table-topping performance during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, stressing that Red Bull’s long-run pace is “where we want to be quick”.

Verstappen will start Sunday’s race between the two Ferrari drivers, having narrowly missed out on pole position to Carlos Sainz but pipped Charles Leclerc to a spot on the front row of the grid.

READ MORE: Sainz pips Verstappen and Leclerc to pole in ultra-close Italian GP qualifying

Asked how he felt about the result, Verstappen quickly pointed to Sunday’s race and the superior performance he expects Red Bull to display in terms of higher fuel running and tyre degradation.

“I’m very depressed!” Verstappen initially joked. “No, I mean it’s fine. We had a good day, I think, but already from yesterday [Ferrari] hit the ground running very strongly, and that’s fine.

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Verstappen had a wild moment on his first Q3 run, dipping two wheels into the gravel

“From our side, I think we improved our car nicely today, but then we just missed out in qualifying, but the margins are very tight. Tomorrow, hopefully we can show again that we’re good on tyres, and that’s where we want to be quick.”

Pushed on how much of a threat he expects Ferrari to be in race-trim, he added: “It’s difficult to say at the moment. They’re ahead in qualifying, but hopefully tomorrow on tyre deg we can get them.”

FACTS AND STATS: The irresistible Ferrari connection with Monza continues as they score a record 23rd pole

On the other side of the Red Bull garage, Sergio Perez had to settle for fifth on the grid, behind the Mercedes of George Russell, after his encouraging Friday practice pace went missing.

Qualifying Highlights: 2023 Italian Grand Prix

"We had a great Friday,” said the Mexican. “Unfortunately we didn’t manage to capitalise on that strong pace for qualifying, but I’m still optimistic for tomorrow; we are P5, we got tipped there by George, but it’s a good position to fight for a good result for tomorrow."

He continued: "Ferrari has looked very strong all weekend, but let’s see. Tomorrow, I think we will find out. It’s not a surprise that they were so strong and solid come quali, so we’ll see what we’re able to do."

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix

Verstappen will start the Italian Grand Prix aiming to set a new outright record of successive F1 wins and go 10 races unbeaten, while Red Bull are looking to make it 15 victories on the bounce.

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