Max Verstappen says he is not shocked by Ferrari’s pace at the Italian Grand Prix, despite being beaten to a pole position by the Scuderia for the first time since Baku.
Carlos Sainz secured his first pole of the season in a thrilling qualifying session at Monza, edging out Verstappen by 0.013s, with Charles Leclerc 0.067s off pole in third. That marks the first time Ferrari has been quicker than Red Bull in a qualifying session since Leclerc’s pole in Baku back in April, but Verstappen says he was expecting a challenge over one lap.
“I’m not really surprised — they were quite quick here last year as well,” Verstappen said. “If you look at their rear wing, it’s quite well optimized for Monza. If you look at our wing, for one lap it is maybe not the best optimization but for a race it should be better. Nothing shocking, to be honest.
“So far this year, yes (Red Bull has been quicker) so hopefully it will be the same tomorrow.”
Verstappen said the signs that Ferrari would be tough to beat were clear throughout the qualifying session, and the fact he bounced back from a difficult Friday leaves him content to be on the front row.
“It was just very tight — you could see it through Q1, Q2, Q3, every run you could see we were very closely matched,” he noted. “This weekend for us — especially from my side I think — Friday was a little bit more tricky but we can’t really complain. I had so many weekends in a row where we put the car on the track and it has been easy going and really well set up.
“It seemed like here it was a little more difficult to find the right trade-off with downforce for us, but I was very happy this morning, I thought the car was working well for one lap and on the long run as well. So I’m happy with second, to be honest. Here in Monza it’s always very tight — sometimes you might jump ahead, sometimes you are just behind, but I am confident for tomorrow.”