Marko urges Verstappen 'not to take risks' if fighting Leclerc

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Helmut Marko has advised Max Verstappen to play it safe and settle for second if battling poleman Charles Leclerc for the lead at Monza carries too much risk.

Verstappen qualified second but will launch his Italian Grand Prix from seventh due to a power unit related five-place grid drop.

But the Dutchman believes that the race pace of his Red Bull RB18 will allow him to dispatch those drivers starting directly in front of him in short order and push his way up to second.

However, Verstappen knows that Leclerc will likely be determined to put up a fight to hold his own at all costs on Ferrari's home turf.

"Of course we will see if we can attack Leclerc, but we do not do that with risks," Marko told Austria's ORF.

"If it can't be done without risks, then we just keep the position and we go for P2.

"Ferrari have developed an incredible top speed - they must have really pushed their engine to the limit."

Marko's wise approach is justified by Verstappen massive 109-point lead over Leclerc in the Drivers standings.

For Leclerc, today's race could resemble the victorious showdown he enjoyed at Monza with Lewis Hamilton back in 2019, when he conquered his second career win in F1.

But the Monegasque says that three years on from that memorable win at the Temple of Speed, he has become a very different driver.

"I was a very, very different driver, struggling a lot in races at the time and now I'm in a much better place," he said.

"In 2019, I was not so confident going into the race. This year, it's better and honestly the feeling was really good on the high fuel.

"It's not going to be easy because for sure, Max will be extremely quick and we'll be coming back but I'm sure that we can make this work."

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