MONZA: Formula One world championship leader Max Verstappen lapped fastest on Friday in first free practice for an Italian Grand Prix that could secure the Red Bull driver a record 10th win in a row. The Dutch 25-year-old set a best time of one minute 22.657 seconds on a warm but cloudy afternoon at Monza with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz keeping the home crowd happy with a lap only 0.046 seconds slower. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, second in the championship but now 138 points adrift after 13 of 22 races, was third fastest and 0.177 slower than his team mate with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc fourth. Verstappen won at Monza last year, with Leclerc starting on pole, and is in dominant form this season with 11 wins so far. He equalled the nine in a row set in 2013 by now-retired Sebastian Vettel on his way to a fourth successive title with Red Bull. Mercedes George Russell was fifth fastest with Fernando Alonso sixth for Aston Martin and Lando Norris seventh for McLaren. Seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton, with a new contract keeping him at Mercedes until the end of 2025, was eighth on the timesheets with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Alex Albon completing the top 10. Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes used only the hard tyres during the session. Both of the Ferrari drivers and Russell started the hour-long session with new power units, within their allocation of four for the season. New Zealander Liam Lawson started his second grand prix weekend as replacement for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at Italy-based AlphaTauri and was 13th fastest. Brazilian reserve and F2 champion Felipe Drugovich replaced Lance Stroll at Aston Martin for the session as part of a requirement to give young drivers track time, and was 18th fastest.