IMOLA, Italy (Reuters) – McLaren can hope to win Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Australian Oscar Piastri said on Saturday after qualifying on the front row alongside Red Bull’s triple world champion Max Verstappen.

Pole-sitter Verstappen has so far won four of the six races but Piastri’s team mate Lando Norris, who will line up third, won the previous race in Miami and McLaren were one-two in final practice at Imola.

“I think yes,” Piastri said when asked whether he could fight Verstappen.

“Normally in the past we’d say no but I think with our recent performances, we’ve learned to say yes. So we’ll see what we can do.

“We’ve definitely been on the pace all weekend. You can never count out Max and Red Bull, of course, like we’ve just seen, but I think the confidence is high.”

Norris said it would be ‘excitingly close’ and cautioned also that Imola was a tough circuit to overtake on.

McLaren have a strong record at the Italian track, dating back to the days when the late Brazilian triple champion Ayrton Senna was racing for them.

Verstappen’s team mate and closest championship rival Sergio Perez will start 11th on Sunday.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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