Max Verstappen may have headed into this weekend in damage limitation mode, but the Dutch driver will start Sunday's Grand Prix at Monza from pole position after an unexpected result in the Sprint Qualifying race.
Verstappen started the Sprint from third place, but benefitted from a poor start for Lewis Hamilton to climb up to second. With the reigning World Champion falling down to fifth, Verstappen kept pace with Valtteri Bottas up at the front and was happy to follow the Finn home.
With Bottas going into the Grand Prix with a grid penalty, Verstappen will start Sunday's race from pole position against the run of play so far this weekend.
"We had the race [go] better than expected," beamed Verstappen after the race, who increases his championship lead over Hamilton to five points as a result of scoring two points for second place.
"We had a good start, we got up to second and we scored some nice little little points and, of course, [we will be] starting on pole tomorrow.
"Nevertheless, they [Mercedes] still seem very quick, but I was giving it all to try and stay close, so it's going to be an interesting battle tomorrow."
Expecting a resurgent Mercedes during the Grand Prix, Verstappen said it's not top speed that's his concern but the overall pace of the W12 around Monza.
"We did trim our car to have decent top speeds, so I'm not too worried about our top speed in the race," he explained.
"But we also know that Mercedes, they have a very good pace also over the whole lap. But nevertheless, we're gonna try and have also a good race."
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