Verstappen penalized on the Italian GP grid

Verstappen penalized on the Italian GP grid

Hamilton and Russell observed a minute’s silence to honor the passing of Queen Elizabeth II

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has been handed a five-place grid penalty for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman finished second in practice, 0.143 seconds behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who will start from behind with his own grid penalty.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third, the fastest of those without a penalty, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Mercedes’ George Russell finished fifth, separated from team-mate Lewis Hamilton by Sergio Perez’s second Red Bull.

The Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso finished eighth and ninth, ahead of Williams driver Alex Albon.

Looking at penalties for Verstappen and Sainz, Leclerc – who trails Verstappen by 109 points in the championship – looks like a favorite for pole position.

But at race pace, Verstappen was comfortably quickest, setting an average lap time on the medium tires around 0.4 seconds quicker than Sainz, who was more than 0.5 seconds quicker than Hamilton.

On the soft tyre, Leclerc was fastest, around 0.6 seconds quicker than Russell.

Verstappen said he did not expect the same level of advantage as two weeks ago at the Belgian Grand Prix, contested on a high-speed track, but with quite different characteristics from Monza.

“Monza is not like Spa in terms of track layout. There is little downforce but we didn’t expect it to be like Spa. But if we can find a way to get there even halfway way, I think we have a good chance.”

“Ferrari looks good. I’m not worried about that. We still have a few things to finalize but if you look at the long stints I think we look pretty good and that’s the most important thing for the race.”

The Mercedes drivers said they lost performance between the first session and the second.

“It’s a bit of a weird day,” Russell said. “P1 looked pretty solid, but Ferrari and Red Bull seemed to take a step forward from us – or maybe we fell back as we were behind the McLaren in P2. So some work to do to understand what is behind it.”

Russell also said he thinks Mercedes lags behind Ferrari when it comes to the amount of power available to send around the lap from the hybrid system.

“Generally speaking, we’re a bit lacking in deployment,” he said. “I think we’re similar to Red Bull, but Ferrari seem to have the upper hand in terms of deployment because they’re having a little more trouble managing it. It’s something we’re going to have to deal with.”

The other drivers facing grid losses are Perez, who receives a 10-place penalty, as well as Hamilton, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Alpha Tauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who will all be at the back of the grid.

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