Max Verstappen set the second-fastest time in the first free practice for the Italian Grand Prix. However, after his victory at Zandvoort again leader in the World Cup standings, the Dutch driver had to tolerate only Lewis Hamilton.
The British leader of Mercedes was the fastest with 1.20.926; Verstappen conceded 0.452 seconds.
The Finn Valtteri Bottas, the teammate of Hamilton, clocked the third time at more than half a second. Verstappen’s Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez conceded more than 1.1 seconds to Hamilton and finished tenth.
Qualifying is already scheduled at Monza on Friday evening at 6 pm Then the grid is determined for the second sprint race of the season, which starts on Saturday at 4.30 pm. The top 3 of the sprint race will receive World Cup points. The results of the short races over 18 laps determine the starting grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix. A free practice session is scheduled before the sprint race.
Verstappen won the first sprint race in Formula 1 at Silverstone earlier this year. However, the Dutch driver dropped out of the British GP a day later after a collision with Hamilton.
After his victory in the Dutch GP, Verstappen is again 3 points ahead of seven-time world champion Hamilton in the battle for the world title. The Dutchman has never made it to the podium on the high-speed Monza circuit. His Red Bull car has usually lost out to the faster Mercedes in recent years. Last season, the Frenchman Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri won the tumultuous GP of Italy.
Verstappen then had to give up due to engine problems. This season, Red Bull can also compete better with Mercedes in terms of top speed with the Honda engine.