Verstappen starts race weekend in Monza with shovel in gravel pit

Max Verstappen started the race weekend in Italy with a firm slider. During the first free practice session for the Italian GP the Red Bull driver slid off the track in the Ascari curve and ended up with the nose of his car in the cushions.

Verstappen managed to get his car out of the gravel trap and then drove back to the pits without a front wing. Training at the Monza circuit was temporarily halted, but soon the other drivers were able to get back on track.

With ten minutes to go in free practice, Verstappen did get back into action, but he didn’t come close to the lap times of the Mercedesses of Valtteri Bottas (fastest time) and Lewis Hamilton (second). Verstappen finally set the fifth fastest time.

“The car feels strange,” said Verstappen, the current number two in World Cup mode, about the onboard radio. “I don’t have much grip in the back.”

This weekend, for the first time, it will be forbidden to use the ‘party-mode’ (the engine setting that allows Hamilton and Bottas in particular to temporarily boost their power) during qualifying. It is one of the measures to make Formula 1 racing less boring.

Super fast

“They are working on some things to promote overtaking next season,” said Verstappen at the press conference. “The big change will only come in 2022, then everything will be completely different with the new regulations. This year there’s not much we can do about it.”

Verstappen: “The cars are super fast, but you can’t connect and you don’t have much grip when you’re behind someone. The cars are too fast and too wide. That doesn’t help.”