Ferrari fans can dream, but Red Bull still fastest – Sainz

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Carlos Sainz says Ferrari fans can dream but the reality is Red Bull remains the quickest car despite the Spaniard setting the pace in FP2 at the Italian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen complained of traffic on his fastest lap in practice while Sergio Perez crashed later on in the session, but it was Sainz who was quickest on his birthday on Friday. Topping the times at Ferrari’s home race in Monza is something Sainz says made for as good a day as he could have asked for, but admits he isn’t sure why the car felt so much better than a week ago at Zandvoort.

“Cannot get much better than that,” Sainz said. “It was a smooth day to be honest. Great to be back on a track like Monza, and from the first lap of FP1 to feel the car normal again after such a difficult weekend in Zandvoort. As soon as we put the car on track here, for some reason, it just adapted a lot better and it was a lot easier to set up and drive it per corner.

“We had a smooth day. It doesn’t mean that we are going to be P1 tomorrow and in the race, but at least the feeling is much better.

“I didn’t skip FP1 so I could…have a better feeling! Then in FP2 we had smooth running despite a couple of red flags… It’s the same car, basically, but for some reason it just felt a lot better, which is what puzzles me more. Let’s see tomorrow. I think everyone is going to go lower fuel tomorrow, higher engine modes and it’s going to be a bit of a different picture, but at least the feeling is decent.”

When pushed on whether Ferrari fans can dream of pole position and victory at the team’s home race, Sainz was optimistic but says the long runs showed Red Bull to have a clear advantage still ahead of Sunday.

“Yeah, dreaming is for free — this is one of my favorite sayings to say. Especially on tracks like this, I think we can all dream… No one takes it away from us. But being realistic, also looking at our race pace, that’s when we started seeing the true pace of the Red Bull. They were clearly again 0.3s-0.5s ahead in race pace, and over 50-something laps that’s a lot of lap time.”