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Sainz 'surprise' as Ferrari send Tifosi hopes soaring

Sainz 'surprise' as Ferrari send Tifosi hopes soaring

Sainz 'surprise' as Ferrari send Tifosi hopes soaring

Sainz 'surprise' as Ferrari send Tifosi hopes soaring

Carlos Sainz has proclaimed his surprise at Ferrari's pace around Monza after leading the way in Friday practice ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.

The Spaniard's lap of one minute 21.664secs, to finish 0.143secs ahead of Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen, delighted the Tifosi.

Although Sainz will take a back-of-the-grid penalty for fitting a number of fresh power unit components, team-mate Charles Leclerc is poised to start from pole position as Verstappen drops five places for taking a new engine.

Ferrari had approached Monza with an element of trepidation given its struggles with a low downforce set-up at Spa Francorchamps two weeks ago for the Belgian Grand Prix.

But Sainz assessed: "It has been a positive day.

"Coming from Spa, the last downforce track where we struggled a lot, we expected not to be very competitive here but I must say that since FP1, the car has felt in a much better window, a much better position than it was at Spa.

"That doesn't mean we are the fastest. I don't think we are the fastest out there by any means, especially in the long runs, but at least we are closer than we thought."

He added: "It is actually better than expected. At Spa, we did a session with a lower rear wing and it didn't feel great.

"Here, coming down on the wing, we have been trimming downforce all day and it just kept feeling better and better.

"It's very difficult to understand this sport and sometimes it brings you some bad surprises and some good ones."

Sainz cautious of Verstappen recovery

Despite Verstappen's penalty, he is still due to start relatively close to the front, and he has already won from 10th and 14th on the grid this year in Hungary and Belgium respectively.

Lowering expectations, Sainz remarked: "Over one lap I think we will contend - we might contend

"But on the long run, they [Red Bull] look strong as always. Especially Max on the medium looked particularly quick.

"For me, the medium felt a bit more of a struggle but if we do the right steps going into tomorrow, maybe we can close the gap."

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