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Verstappen fastest in Monza practice as he chases 10th successive win
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Press Association
Max Verstappen finished fastest in first practice (Luca Bruno/AP)
Max Verstappen finished fastest in first practice (Luca Bruno/AP)

Max Verstappen put down an early marker in his bid to win 10 consecutive races by setting the fastest time in practice for the Italian Grand Prix.

The double world champion edged out Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz by 0.046 seconds in Monza with Sergio Perez third in the other Red Bull.

Charles Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari at the Italian team’s home event, one place ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, while Lewis Hamilton ended the opening running of the weekend in eighth.

Verstappen has dominated Formula One this season – winning 11 of the 13 rounds so far – and will make history on Sunday if he racks up another victory.

The Red Bull driver – already 138 points clear in his pursuit of a third world championship – is level with Sebastian Vettel on nine wins and, on the evidence of practice, is poised to land yet another win and set a new record.

Hamilton ended his long-running contract saga in the build-up to this weekend’s race by putting pen to paper on a new £50million-a-year deal.

But the seven-time world champion ended first practice six tenths back from Verstappen and a tenth adrift of team-mate Russell.

Ferrari have endured a poor season, but showed early promise in front of their fanatical supporters at the Temple of Speed with Sainz and Leclerc second and fourth respectively.

Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso, who finished runner-up to Verstappen at last weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, took sixth for Aston Martin, one place ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Second practice gets under way at 5pm local time (4pm BST).

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