Max Verstappen narrowly missed the pole position to Carlos Sainz by mere 0.013 seconds. It is a momentous occasion to be savoured by the Ferrari backers, considering this is Sainz’s number one pole on Ferrari‘s home ground and his fourth career pole.
Ferrari made an impressive presence with a tailor-made low-drag rear wing dedicated to their home track to satiate their fervent fans. Contrarily, Red Bull employed some exclusive tweaks for Monza, without losing sight of strong race pace. Friday’s fuel and tyre-adjusted race pace data indicate Red Bull garnered an edge in elongated stints, keeping Verstappen optimistic about earning his 10th consecutive grand prix victory on Sunday.
“Their speed wasn’t surprising. They had impressive one lap pace, even last year,” stated Verstappen when he referred to Ferrari‘s performance. Charles Leclerc finished a close third. He went on to add, “It appears their rear wing is acutely optimised for Monza whereas ours, especially for a single lap, might not be optimised best. However, our prospects for the race look promising, the end result didn’t take us by surprise.”
Verstappen then pointed out the race’s evenly matched nature, that was evident in all qualifying segments. “Friday was a tad more complex for me, considering all this, there isn’t much to complain about,” he added.
The reason behind his challenging practice sessions on Friday compared to his comfortable home race in Zandvoort last week, Verstappen described, was the struggle to strike an agreeable balance between the top speed and downforce. “The right trade-off with downforce was somewhat difficult for us,” the Dutchman admitted.
However, he expressed satisfaction with his performance, saying, “This morning I was very content. The car was performing well, both on a single lap and over the long run. Despite the tightly contested race at Monza, I’m pleased with second place. I remain hopeful for tomorrow’s competition.”