Max Verstappen says he is prepared for a difficult Italian Grand Prix both on and off the track with performance deficits and pressure from rivals about driving standards.

The Red Bull driver finished fifth fastest overall after Friday's free practice at Monza, almost a full second off the pace-setting Mercedes, and acknowledges its power unit deficit will be its key weakness at the Italian circuit against the German manufacturer as well as Ferrari.

Away from the track, Verstappen had a private meeting with FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting to discuss his race conduct ahead of the Friday evening drivers' briefing after coming under fire about his aggressive driving style last time out at Spa.

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The 18-year-old says what was discussed between him and Whiting will remain a private matter but is steeling himself for the tricky race weekend.

"I did gain like half a second [on super-softs] and that is pretty normal at this kind of track as you don't have many corners," Verstappen said. "We know this is going to be a more difficult weekend for us, I think at the end though we are not too bad, it is just difficult.

"We [Whiting and Verstappen] had a chat about what happened at Spa and I prefer to do it there with Charlie instead of in the media or in the drivers' briefing. Spa is now gone and we are in Monza now so we will focus on Monza."

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