Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko isn't exactly bristling with confidence ahead of Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix, describing Red Bull's deficit to rival Mercedes "a bit alarming".
Verstappen clocked in 0.455s behind poleman Lewis Hamilton at the end of Saturday's shootout, and race pace projections also put Red Bull behind Mercedes by a significant margin.
"The deficit is a bit alarming," Marko acknowledged, speaking to Sky Sports Germany.
"We initially lost a lot in Sector 1, but we made up for it. Then we fell behind in Sector 2. It went back and forth. Our car has never been as fast on a single lap."
Verstappen's launch off the grid this afternoon and the long run down to Losail's Turn 1 could make or break his race, or indeed that of his title rival.
And the Dutchman won't be able to rely on Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez lending him a helping hand at the start given the Mexican's lowly P11 starting position on the grid.
Furthermore, Verstappen has been summoned to the stewards for an alleged double yellow flag breach that could potentially warrant a grid penalty for the Dutchman.
But Marko vows to remain "positive" and is banking on a strong start from the front row for Verstappen to keep himself in the mix.
"We remain positive," added the Austrian. "Normally we do much better with a full tank, so I hope we can make it an exciting race.
"Let's see what pace Lewis can drive at. It will be a difficult and tough race."