Formula One: Sainz ensures Ferrari top times again in Italian GP practice

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz (front) in action during the first practice session. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MONZA, Italy - Carlos Sainz made sure Ferrari were fastest in both of Friday's practice runs at the Italian Grand Prix by topping the times in the second session at Monza.

Spaniard Sainz posted a fastest time of one minute and 21.664 seconds, finishing 0.143sec ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen who is hunting his first ever win at the Temple of Speed.

Red Bull's Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty for Sunday's race for taking on his fifth engine of the season.

Sainz's Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc, who trails Verstappen in the driver's standings by 109 points, finished 0.193sec off the pace in third.

The Monegasque was fastest in the first session of the day and Verstappen's grid penalty has boosted his chances of claiming his second win at Monza after triumphing at the Italian track in 2019.

Verstappen is one of six drivers to be hit with sanctions alongside teammate Sergio Perez - who drops back 10 places for a similar offence - Lewis Hamilton, Sainz, Valtteri Bottas and Yuki Tsunoda.

Seven-time champion Hamilton is yet to win a GP this season and will start at the back of the grid for a power unit change and other engine infractions.

Sainz will start just ahead of the Mercedes driver and Tsunoda after being handed a 25-place penalty for new gearbox components.

The session was preceded by a minute's silence following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Formula One chief Stefano Domenicali, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and former technical director Ross Brawn lined up alongside Brits Hamilton and Russell for the brief ceremony.

A further minute's silence is scheduled ahead of the race on Sunday afternoon. AFP

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