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Verstappen "not worried" by Ferrari’s pace through F1 Italian GP practice

Max Verstappen was unconcerned to see Ferrari lead Friday’s Formula 1 practice running for the Italian Grand Prix, believing Red Bull looks “quite good” over the long runs at Monza.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Red Bull heads into this weekend tipped for victory thanks to its impressive straight-line speed and form at low downforce tracks so far this season.

Although Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez will serve grid penalties due to engine changes, Red Bull will look to repeat its form from Spa two weeks ago, where Verstappen charged from 14th on the grid to score a dominant win. 

Charles Leclerc led a 1-2 finish for Ferrari in FP1 at Monza on Friday before team-mate Carlos Sainz set the pace in FP2, finishing 0.143 seconds clear of Verstappen in second place.

“The car was quite good,” said Verstappen after second practice. “I was just trying a few things from the car from FP1 to FP2 to understand if you could do things better.

“Some worked, some didn’t. And yeah, just general long-run practice of course with the little penalty we have. Everything seems to work quite well.”

Asked if he was worried about Ferrari’s pace on Friday, Verstappen replied: “They look good. I’m not worried about it, but we still have a few things to finalise.

“If you look at the long runs, I think we look quite good, and that’s of course the most important for the race.”

Verstappen has taken a fresh engine for this weekend, incurring a five-place grid penalty that will drop him down the field for Sunday’s race, while Perez has a 10-place grid drop as it is his first engine outside the season limit.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sainz will fall to the back of the field for Ferrari following a raft of changes on his power unit, leaving Leclerc as the only driver from the leading two teams heading into Sunday without a grid drop.

Even with his penalty, Verstappen is expected to be in contention for victory at Monza after the dominance displayed by Red Bull at Spa, where its straight-line speed allowed him to take an easy win despite starting so far back.

Verstappen was wary of drawing any firm comparisons between the two circuits, but hoped he could retain even a portion of the advantage seen at Spa.

“There’s still a few things we can do better, but of course Monza is not like Spa in terms of track layout,” said Verstappen.

“It’s low downforce, but we never expected it to be like Spa. But if we can find a way, even if it’s halfway of Spa, then I think we have a good chance.”

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