carlos sainz ensured Ferrari was quickest in both Friday practice at the Italian Grand Prix by breaking the times in the second session at Monza.
Spaniard Sainz set the fastest time of one minute and 21.664 seconds, finishing 0.143 seconds ahead of Formula 1 championship leader Max Verstappen who is in search of his first ever Temple of Speed victory.
Red Bull’s Verstappen was penalized five grid places for Sunday’s race for using his fifth engine of the season, but he is still confident of fighting for victory.
“Everything seemed to be working well,” said Verstappen, who won the Belgian Grand Prix last month from 14th on the grid.
“There are still a few things we can do better, but I think we should have a good chance.
“The Ferraris look good, I’m not worried about them but we still have a few things to finalize.”
Sainz’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who leads Verstappen in the drivers’ standings by 109 points, finished 0.193s off the pace in third in a session that was briefly interrupted after Mick Schumacher’s engine failed.
Son of F1 icon Michael Schumacher, the Haas driver found himself stuck on the edge of the grass near the sixth corner.
Monegasque Lerclerc was quickest in the opening session of the day and Verstappen’s grid penalty boosted his chances of securing his second win at Monza after triumphing at the Italian track in 2019.
It would give Ferrari fans something to cheer about at home after enduring a campaign littered with team blunders that all but ended their hopes of a first drivers’ title since KimiRaikkonen’s 2007 triumph.
“Our race pace seemed stronger than our qualifying pace, so if we put it all together there’s pretty good potential to have a solid weekend,” said Leclerc.
The ‘Scuderia’ celebrates its 75th anniversary on the centenary of the Monza track, and it also has a sticker on the car in honor of Queen Elizabeth II who died on Thursday.
Verstappen is one of six drivers to be penalized alongside team-mate Sergio Perez – who drops 10 places for a similar infringement – Lewis Hamilton, Sainz, ValtteriBottas 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 0.839 seconds behind Sainz in seventh.
“We made some setup changes between FP1 and FP2 and went a lot slower, or the other guys went a lot faster…we just didn’t feel that fast in the last session,” said Hamilton.
“I know George had 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.