RACE DEBRIEF

    Max Verstappen brought out the red flags in FP1 after he lost control of his RB16 and hit the barriers at the Ascari Chicane – but the Red Bull driver was more concerned about a lack of grip and balance on his car across Friday’s two practice sessions at Monza.

    The Dutchman was fifth fastest in both FP1 and FP2 ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, but said it was “not a good day,” in a brief interview after Friday running had concluded.

    READ MORE: FP2: Hamilton heads Bottas as Norris takes impressive third in second practice at Monza

    “[I’m] struggling with balance and grip in general. So quite a bit of work to do,” he said, before adding that his crash in first practice – which ripped off his front wing – did not hinder him in the afternoon session. “The team fixed my car quickly during FP1 and I didn’t have any effects from that in FP2 so there are no concerns there,” he said.

    'Not a good day' for Max Verstappen at Monza

    Tyre wear is one of the problems that has sprung up for Red Bull this weekend, even though the tyres themselves are the same softer Pirelli compounds, that were used when Verstappen took his first win of 2020 at Silverstone in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

    “Also that [tyre wear] is not great,” he said. “Normally if you have a balanced car then the tyre wear will be OK, so we need to find that balance before qualifying.”

    READ MORE: 'It's going to be a nightmare' – Hamilton braced for more qualifying shenanigans at Monza this year

    Verstappen's Red Bull team mate Alex Albon – who finished FP1 an impressive third quickest – had a touch more optimism and explained that his FP2 position of 14th came due to a track limits violation at Turn 11, Parabolica, where a number of drivers went wide. His lap of 1m21.531s was struck off and would have been good enough for P10 at the end.

    "My best lap in FP2 was deleted for exceeding track limits in Turn 11 which happened to a lot of us today," he said. "What we’re seeing is people backing up into you in the last corner as they start their lap and so you get their dirty air and then you struggle to stay tight to the corner.

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    “Obviously, everyone is trying to make a gap to start their lap but it should be a little easier when qualifying starts because everyone is pushing at the same time.

    “I was feeling OK in the morning session and the afternoon wasn’t bad, we just need to touch up a few things on the car for the low and high-speed corners. It’s very close out there just as we expected, and I think a tenth could be the difference between three or four positions.

    READ MORE: ‘My worst Friday for a long time,’ says Norris despite P3 in second practice

    “We know we’ve got some homework to do so we can fine tune the car balance to where we want it to be but I think there’s potential to improve our package here,” he concluded.

    Red Bull have not achieved a podium finish at Monza in the hybrid era but team boss Christian Horner said the team have consistently “over-performed” at the Temple of Speed. Could this be the year that they get back onto the rostrum?