Carlos Sainz, driving for Ferrari, edged out Max Verstappen of Red Bull to secure the sought-after pole position for Ferrari‘s home Grand Prix, beating the latter by a mere 0.013 seconds. Not far behind, Charles Leclerc, also from Ferrari, finished third, just 0.054 seconds off Sainz.
Sainz, the Spanish driver, clarified that despite leading Free Practice 2 (FP2) and FP3, and ranking second only to Verstappen in FP1 over the weekend, he never expressly pushed his SF-23 to its absolute limit at the park-based circuit through the significant corners before his final qualifying attempts.
When asked by F1 Initiative how he felt finally doing so had made the difference to beat Verstappen, Sainz said his approach was “typical here in Monza”.
“Here, there’s an airy feeling with the car that prevents you from being willing to push the car to its limit in practice,” he said. This sentiment, however, deviates in Q3 when it matters the most, “I’ve had a few good laps here in Q3 and I remember my McLaren days and even last year here I had a really good run around Ascari and Parabolica – when you go and remove that fear a bit and go to take the ultimate risk.”
Enlightening further, Sainz stated, “Today, it worked again. I approached this incredibly fast corner, the car felt very light, and all you could do is hope it grips – which it did, just like the entire weekend. This allowed me to secure pole by a hundredth.”
The Ferrari faithful gave Sainz a heartwarming ovation when he outpaced Verstappen to claim the fourth pole of his Formula 1 career. Recounting his exhilarating experience, Sainz mentioned during the post-qualifying press conference that he had “good fun in this qualifying session”.
He continued to express his delight, “I enjoyed it a lot. I relished the contest all the way from Q3 run one, where all three of us clocked 1m20.5s [Verstappen recorded a 1m20.631s on his first Q3 attempt]. I sensed it would be incredibly close and revolve around the fine details and risks going into the second run. And, it was indeed great fun.”