Carlos Sainz capitalized on the fastest middle sector of the Q3 shootout, leading Ferrari‘s assault at their home circuit for the Italian Grand Prix. The Spaniard came out on top, securing pole position with a 1m20.294s lap in Monza.
Slicing through the track, Sainz edged out Red Bull‘s reigning double champion Max Verstappen by a mere 0.013 seconds. Behind him, teammate Leclerc missed out on the top spot by 0.067s, hence taking a place upfront on the second row alongside Mercedes‘s George Russell.
Both Scuderia drivers breathed a sigh of relief as they narrowly escaped a sportsmanship penalty from the FIA for overshooting the maximum allowable lap time during their slow out-laps in Q1. Unfazed, Leclerc contended that if he’d had the opportunity for a final slipstream like Sainz, he could potentially have outpaced Verstappen.
Leclerc, reflecting on his experience, said, “My feeling can only be amazing with the Tifosi. However, I’m somewhat disappointed. I desired to be first, but it is satisfying to see Carlos at P1 for Ferrari. He has been exemplary all weekend whereas I’ve had a challenging time: FP1, FP2, FP3 and qualifying. Nevertheless, I managed to piece it together. Regrettably in Q3, I didn’t have a slipstream which could have earned us at least one position.”
Ferrari boss, Fred Vasseur presents a contrary perspective, believing drivers fare better without slipstreaming at Monza due to the possible destabilizing effect of the turbulent air in corners. Notably, Verstappen too, drove without a tow.
In reference to the intense qualifiers, Sainz said, “In that last lap, I knew I had some lap time to come in Ascari and Parabolica, and I went for it. The gamble paid off as I really pushed hard in that last lap.”
Looking ahead to the race, an optimistic Sainz pledged, “I will give everything to maintain that P1—a good start, a good first turn and see how we fare against Max. Even though he’s usually quicker on the long runs, I’m going to give it my all.”