Monza, Italy — Ahead of the commencement of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz is bent on halting Max Verstappen‘s noteworthy streak of successive Formula One wins. Although, the Ferrari driver Sainz is well aware that achieving this feat will be an uphill battle.
Sainz managed to outperform Verstappen in the qualifying rounds at Monza, surpassing him by a mere 0.013s. Consequently, Verstappen, who represents Red Bull, will commence Sunday’s race in the second position, flanked by the Ferrari pair.
Verstappen is, at present, enjoying a streak of nine back-to-back victories, thus matching the record formed by Sebastian Vettel in 2013. If he attains a win this Sunday, with his tenth consecutive victory, the record will be his alone.
The Red Bull team has had a splendid unbeaten season this far, with 11 out of 13 race wins accredited to Verstappen and the remaining 2 won by Sergio Perez, his teammate. Even though the prospects of Ferrari‘s triumph on Sunday seem bleak, Sainz still has his sights set on the ultimate prize – the first position.
Sainz expresses his optimism, “I think it can happen, nothing is impossible tomorrow, especially starting from P1. At the start I am going to do everything I can to stay ahead of Max.” However, he reflects on the year’s consistent pattern, “100 percent of races they have been quicker than us, and clearly quicker, so that makes me feel like it is not going to be easy at all.”
Despite the anticipated challenge, Sainz remains hopeful. “They are going to try to find a way past, one way or another, but if something could happen we would have a very good day tomorrow and get the win,” Sainz added. He also explained his strategy of adapting, “I’m just going to try and go into tomorrow with the mindset to win the race and then adapt to the circumstances and race pace of Verstappen.”
Past practice sessions gave a hint of what to expect, in terms of the performance of each car when loaded with fuel for multiple laps. Verstappen’s lap times during the race simulation averaged 0.4s faster than those of Sainz.
Sainz is realistic about the reality of his challenge, “What we have seen from the long runs, I’m not going to lie, it’s trickier [to fight Verstappen] and not the same picture as qualifying… Red Bull, as soon as you put five or six laps on the tyres and everything starts to degrade a bit, that’s where their strength is, and that’s the race pace we have seen all year.”
However, Sainz is determined, “But hopefully I can get a better start and then make Max’s and Checo’s life as difficult as possible. I think we are willing to work through it as a team and give it our best shot… It’s a good opportunity tomorrow, realistically the Red Bull should be quicker, but we are just going to try to make their life as complicated as possible and try to take the win.”
On the other hand, Verstappen believes that his car, featuring a larger rear wing for enhanced downforce, may prove to be advantageous in the race, especially when it comes to managing tyre degradation. He commented on the Ferrari driver’s unexpected pole position, “I’m not really surprised [Sainz is on pole position], they were quite quick here last year as well… If you look at their rear wing, it’s quite well optimised for Monza.” He emphasized that the results were quite anticipated – “[The result is] nothing shocking, to be honest.”