Max Verstappen reacts as Charles Leclerc snatches pole at Italian Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen has revealed Red Bull made an important decision ahead of Italian Grand Prix qualifying despite Charles Leclerc securing pole. Verstappen said Red Bull chose to add some extra downforce as he stressed the team already have one eye on race day tomorrow after being hit with a grid penalty.

Speaking after the session, Verstappen said: “It was close but of course we chose to go for a little bit more downforce around here and on one lap it is maybe not the best.

“I think for tomorrow it can be quite strong and also knowing we have to start a bit back. All in all, it was a good lap and I enjoyed it. I think it will be an interesting day tomorrow.”

After the chequered flag, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner also confirmed the team had compromised their pace for a better race set-up. However, he claimed Red Bull were only targeting a podium due to their penalties.

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Verstappen was only fast enough for third after his first run in Q3, around a quarter of a second slower than Carlos Sainz. But, the reigning champion had more pace up his sleeve and set the fastest second sector in the closing stages to the concern of the Tifosi. 

Leclerc did improve on his final run, setting a lap two-tenths faster than team-mate Sainz to secure provisional pole. Verstappen then crossed the line one-tenth slower than the Monegasque to send the Italian fans into raptures.

However, Verstappen will likely start the race from P7 after being hit with a five-place grid penalty ahead of the weekend. The Dutchman received a grid drop after taking on a new power unit ahead of Friday practice. 

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Sainz, Perez and Hamilton have also been issued a penalty meaning Mercedes’ George Russell will start on the front row. Leclerc secured his 17th career pole position as he targets the Scuderia’s first race win since the Austrian Grand Prix.

Ferrari last won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza back in 2019 when Leclerc picked up his second career victory. Prior to Leclerc’s win, Ferrari had not stood on the top step at Monza since Fernando Alonso back in 2010. 

After securing pole, Leclerc commented: “It is amazing. It wasn’t an easy Qualifying session but I knew we had the potential in the car. In this last lap in Q3 I had to put everything together and I managed to do it. Very happy with the lap and very happy with the performance. I hope we can do just like 2019 tomorrow.”



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