Sainz ensures Ferrari top times again in Monza practice

·3 min read

Carlos Sainz made sure Ferrari were fastest in both of Friday's practice runs at the Italian Grand Prix by topping the times in the second session at Monza.

Spaniard Sainz posted a fastest time of one minute and 21.664 seconds, finishing 0.143sec ahead of Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen who is hunting his first ever win at the Temple of Speed.

Red Bull's Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's race for taking on his fifth engine of the season, but is still confident of challenging for the race win.

"Everything seemed to work out quite well," said Verstappen, who won the Belgian Grand Prix last month from 14th on the grid.

"There are still a few things that we can do better, but I think we should stand a good chance.

"The Ferraris look good, I'm not worried about them but we still have a few things to finalise."

Sainz's Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who trails Verstappen in the drivers' standings by 109 points, finished 0.193sec off the pace in third in a session which was briefly stopped after Mick Schumacher's power unit failed.

Son of F1 icon Michael Schumacher, the Haas driver was left stranded on the grass verge near turn six.

Monegasque Lerclerc was fastest in the first session of the day and Verstappen's grid penalty has boosted his chances of claiming his second win at Monza after triumphing at the Italian track in 2019.

That would give Ferrari fans something to cheer about on home turf after suffering a campaign littered with team blunders which have all-but ended their hopes of a first drivers' title since Kimi Raikkonen triumphed in 2007.

"Our race pace looked stronger than our qualifying pace, so if we put it all together there is quite good potential to have a solid weekend," said Leclerc.

The 'Scuderia' are celebrating their 75th birthday on the centenary of the Monza track, and they also have an on-car sticker honouring Queen Elizabeth II who died on Thursday.

- Hamilton seventh fastest -

Verstappen is one of six drivers to be hit with sanctions alongside teammate Sergio Perez -- who drops back 10 places for a similar offence -- Lewis Hamilton, Sainz, Valtteri Bottas and Yuki Tsunoda.

Seven-time champion Hamilton is yet to win a GP this season and will start at the back of the grid for a power unit change and other engine infractions.

He was 0.839sec behind Sainz in seventh.

"We made some set-up changes in between FP1 and FP2 and went a lot slower, or the other guys went a lot quicker... we just didn't feel as fast in the later session," said Hamilton.

"I know George had some deployment issues here but my car didn't seem to be affected."

Sainz will start just ahead of the Mercedes driver and Tsunoda after being handed a 25-place penalty for new gearbox components.

The day's two sessions were preceded by a minute's silence for the Queen.

Formula One chief Stefano Domenicali, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and former technical director Ross Brawn lined up alongside Britons Hamilton and George Russell for the brief ceremony.

A further minute's silence is scheduled ahead of the race on Sunday afternoon.

Top 10 times from the second practice session at the Italian Grand Prix on Friday:

1. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari) 1:21.664, 2. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) at 0.143sec, 3. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 0.193, 4. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 0.674, 5. George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 0.722, 6. Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull) 0.730, 7. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 0.839, 8. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault) 1.064, 9. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault) 1.088, 10. Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes) 1.171

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