in Italy, Sainz and Ferrari respond to Verstappen in practice

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz won the first two free practice sessions at the Monza circuit on Friday.

A first day carrying all the hopes for the Tifosi: at the wheel of his Ferrari, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr. took the best time of the first tests of the Grand Prix of Italy on Friday, in front of an Italian public all committed to the cause Scuderia. In the “temple of speed” from Monza bathed in sun … and red, Sainz, who is celebrating his 29th birthday on the grounds of the Scuderia, savored: “it’s great to drive in front of this extraordinary public (…) on the track, the car seems to have regained rhythm and the characteristics of the circuit seem to suit us better“.

The Spaniard responded to the championship leader on Friday evening Max Verstappen, who had dominated the first session raced earlier in the day – but who only finished 5th on the time sheet in the evening. However, nothing to worry about for the Dutchman: “madmaxwho has the opportunity to claim a 10th straight F1 victory on Sunday, more than any other driver before him, was simply a victim of track traffic, wasting valuable time on his fast lap. “In the short stint, I got stuck“, explained the reigning champion, while”in the long stint we couldn’t do a lot of laps so we don’t really have a clear picture– the fault of his teammate at Red Bull Sergio Pérez.

The Mexican ended the day in the gravel less than ten minutes from the end of practice. The incident caused a red flag for a few minutes. “It’s a shame to have ended this way, because I felt that the day had been positive“, Lamented the one whose place at Red Bull seems more and more fragile, the fault of results much more mixed than those of Verstappen. Pérez still finished 3rd at the end of each of the two sessions.

Leclerc back

The Mclaren of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri conclude their first day in Italy by placing themselves 2nd and 4th respectively on the time sheet. Further back, the second Ferrari, that of Monegasque Charles Leclerc, winner of the Italian GP in 2019, was content with the 6th fastest time on Friday evening. “It was a pretty tricky day overall, our performance was pretty good, but I struggled with the balance of the car“, explained the Monegasque. Since the start of the season, Ferrari has struggled to honor its status as reigning vice-world champion. The Italian team has not won a GP since Austria in July 2022 and is currently in 4th place in the constructors’ standings, behind Red Bull, Mercedes and Aston Martin.

For Alpine, the day was above all studious: far from seeking pure performance, “we have completed our program, but I believe that several aspects still need to be analyzed in order to be more competitive on this extremely fast track“, explained Esteban Ocon, only 15th. His teammate and French compatriot Pierre Gasly, who had signed his first and only victory in the premier cl at Monza in 2020 – at the wheel of an AlphaTauri – finished 13th of the day.

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