Carlos Sainz has insisted he’s determined to “enjoy” his second trip to Monza as a Ferrari driver, despite his race to forget at Zandvoort, the looming threat of a pair of very rapid Red Bulls, and the weight of pressure from the fanatical tifosi on the Italian F1 team at their home race.
Red Bull’s towering pace at low-downforce, high-speed Spa-Francorchamps – where Max Verstappen recovered from P14 to a comfortable victory – stoked fears that Monza would present a similar pace advantage for Max Verstappen’s team. At Zandvoort, where Sainz struggled to P8 after a botched pitstop and a time penalty for an unsafe release, the Spaniard was asked whether he could extract any enjoyment from this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix despite the intense pressure on Ferrari.
“Thank God I’ve been following for Formula 1 for 15 years, and I’ve been educated by seeing it and seeing how it works so I’m totally fine with it,” began Sainz, “and that’s why maybe I’m so chilled after a race when something big happens because I know it’s coming and I’m trying to keep it low key, but yeah, Monza is going to be an incredible weekend, having everyone there, full crowd, fighting with a competitive Ferrari, I think is the best possible scenario that you can have as a racing driver, no?
“And I’m keen to enjoy my target that we can use especially to enjoy it and because there’s always so much to do – there’s always extra media, extra things, extra events, extra pressure – that sometimes maybe they don’t allow you to open your eyes and see this is actually happening.
“I’m racing for Ferrari in Monza in a competitive car and then you appreciate it a lot more and you enjoy it a lot more and this will be my target and then let’s see how the weekend goes, how the car performs, etcetera. But I’m going to go a bit more with that approach.”
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After Verstappen’s victory at Spa, Sainz was asked whether he was “nervous” regarding Red Bull’s pace – Sergio Perez having backed up a one-two for the team in Belgium as Sainz fell from pole to P3.
“A bit, yeah, I’m not going to lie,” he replied.
“After Spa, if there’s a track similar to Spa with similar configurations it’s Monza, no? And we know they are going to be strong there, it’s another track that should suit them, but this doesn’t mean that we can’t react from Spa and at least make their life a bit more difficult around Monza.
“You know wins can still happen in different ways. You might not be the fastest but you might find a way to make it around and win so we’re going to give it our best shot.”
Ferrari took victory at Monza with Charles Leclerc in 2019, before Pierre Gasly won in 2020 for fellow Italian team AlphaTauri and Daniel Ricciardo led home a surprise one-two for McLaren in 2021.