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Italian GP: Post Qualifying press conference

NEWS STORY
02/09/2023

Track Interviews - Conducted by Davide Valsecchi

Charles, how was your feeling? I was asking how was your lap? You were all alone and everyone was following you. Less than a tenth from pole position but only third on the grid? How is your feeling also about this amazing crowd?
Charles Leclerc: I mean, my feeling can only be amazing with the tifosi of course. On my side, I'm a bit disappointed. I obviously wanted to be first but seeing that Carlos is P1 is great for Ferrari. He has done an incredible job all weekend. I've been struggling quite a bit more, FP1, FP2, FP3 but in Qualifying I managed to put everything together, so I was really happy. Then unfortunately in Q3 I didn't have a slipstream and probably this cost us one position at least, but it's life, we should be happy. Especially on my side, I've been struggling a lot... They [the tifosi] are just incredible. I don't smile very often when I'm P3 but obviously being here and having that much support is an amazing feeling.

So I guess there is the right feeling to be on the podium tomorrow, right?
CL: Exactly. And we'll try to do first and second with Carlos.

Max, you were all alone against the two Ferraris. At one moment you were on pole and then Carlos beat your lap time? How was it on the track today?
Max Verstappen: Yeah, it was good. I think we made some good improvements compared to yesterday and in Qualifying you could see every qualifying session was very tight, so I'm happy to be second today.

And about tomorrow, you are ready to fight, because we have the two Ferraris and all the fans here. It will not be so easy for you, no?
MV: Yeah, of course, but it's nice to see, and of course tomorrow we'll try to win the race. Normally we have a quick race car but first, you know, just enjoy today and then I will focus on tomorrow.

Carlos, what an amazing lap. Tell us about your driving, because in the middle sector, you were just phenomenal? Probably it's there where you catch your pole position today.
Carlos Sainz: Honestly, it's been such an intense Qualifying especially in Q3, you know. All three of us went for it, we were very, very on the limit. And in that last lap, I knew I had some lap time to come in Ascari and Parabolica and I went for it. And it worked well. Why not, because I really pushed hard, you know, on that last lap.

And tell me about this. I mean, goosebumps sometimes, right?
CS: Goosebumps since I crossed the finish line. The whole in-lap, watching the crowd and obviously getting out of the car and seeing this, I haven't stopped the goosebumps. It's incredible. But in the hotel, arriving to the track. Everywhere we go, it's just noise, support and encouragement and it's the best feeling you can have as a driver, as an athlete.

And about tomorrow, are you aiming for that podium up there?
CS: Yeah, that's the number one target. Tomorrow I'm going to give it everything to hold on to that P1. A good start, a good first stint, see if we can battle Max. Normally in the long runs, he's quicker but I'm going to give it all.

Press Conference

Carlos, belated happy birthday. What a sensational final lap by you. Just how sweet is this moment: pole for Ferrari at Monza?
CS: It's difficult to put into words, to describe the feeling. It's just amazing, you know. Just the whole weekend really, since we arrived here on Wednesday, the support and the feeling with the crowd and the energy that they put into us, it's incredible. I had my birthday yesterday also, so I enjoyed that and I'm pretty sure it gave me also a good feeling, good vibes and good energy into today. I've been feeling very comfortable with the car and I put together, honestly, one of my best laps there in Q3, run two, to settle pole. It was tight with these two, like it used to be last year, and like it gets to be normally and I enjoyed a lot that lap.

As you say, you've been fast all weekend. The car seems very hooked up. Just what are its strengths around Monza?
CS: Well, I guess our efficiency. Like we've seen in some tracks this year, it's pretty good and the car, honestly, since we put it on track on FP1, it just felt completely different to what it did in Zandvoort and it is what it is. It's what we're getting this year: we're getting some very good weekends and some other very tough ones, we just need to make sure on the good ones we, we try to maximise, like we did today, and in the tough ones, we learn how to suffer and get the best out of it. But honestly, the car today, I cannot fault it. It was a really, really good balance. It gave me a lot of confidence through Sector 2, Ascari and Parabolica, and it's there I think where I could make the major difference when it counted, taking a bit more risks.

Now, there was one potential hiccup in Q1 when, and I'm quoting: "You were reported to the stewards for disobeying the Race Director's instructions concerning the maximum lap time." What happened there?
CS: Yeah, I'm not very worried about that, because I had to slow down so much to not impede other cars that were on fastest laps that it was almost impossible to respect the delta that the Race Director put us, because if I would have respected it, I would have impeded my competitors. So I just played it safe, preferred to not impede anyone. And even if I was, I think, one or two seconds off the Delta, I think that's safer than actually impeding someone.

And that is why there is no further action. But let's look ahead to the race tomorrow...
CS: Yeah, thank you. Don't scare me!

Sorry! Let's look ahead to the race tomorrow. Have you got the car to do it to win around here?
CS: Well, we've got the motivation and the energy to do it. The car, it has been very good all weekend, especially over one lap. From what I've seen through the long runs, I'm not going to lie, it's trickier. It's not the same picture as in Quali. That Red Bull, as soon as you put five or six laps on the tyre, and everything starts to degrade a bit, it's where they come, their strengths, and the race pace that we've seen all year. But hopefully I can get a good start and then I can make Max and Checo behind and Charles' life, obviously, as difficult as possible. But I think we will need to work well as a team and give it our best shot. I think it's a good opportunity tomorrow, but also being realistic, the Red Bull should be quicker. We're just going to try and make their life as complicated as possible and try to take the win.

Max, coming to you now. So tell us about Qualifying for you. After eight consecutive pole positions, it's P2 for you here at Monza.
MV: So now you do count my Spa pole! OK [laughs]. Yeah, I think it was just very tight. You know, you could see Q1, Q2, Q3. Yeah, it was... every run, you could see that we were very closely matched. And I think this weekend, especially from my side, I think Friday was a little bit more tricky, but I think we can't really complain. So many weekends in a row where we put the car on the track and it has been easy going, it has been really well set-up and it seemed like here it was just a little more difficult to find the right trade-off of downforce for us. But I was very happy this morning. I thought the car's working well on one lap and on the long run as well. So, yeah, I'm happy with second, to be honest. Here in Monza it's always very tight. Sometimes you might jump ahead, sometimes you're just behind but I'm confident for tomorrow.

How good was that final lap in Q3?
MV: It was good. Just pushing as hard as I could. On a track like this, with low downforce, it's not always the easiest, but it was enjoyable out there.

And do you agree with Carlos that you have a better race car than him?
MV: I mean, so far this year, yes. So hopefully it will be the same tomorrow.

Charles, coming to you, very well done as well. Amazing moment to have two Ferraris in the top three. Just talk us through Q3 first of all, from your point of view.
CL: Well, our Q3 was really on the limit. I mean, the two laps I've done, I was really happy with my laps. But we were very close with Max and Carlos. To be honest, it's not something that I expected. Until now it's been such a difficult weekend for me. Yesterday, I went into a direction that was completely wrong with the car set-up and I really struggled to put a lap together. This morning in FP3 was all about adapting to that new car, following the direction of Carlos' set-up. And then in Quali, I managed to put everything together and I'm really happy with the performance we've shown today. Yes, it's only P3 and I'm never completely happy with third place but considering where we started the weekend, it's not a bad place to be.

Charles, what took you in that different direction set-up wise, yesterday?
CL: I had a feeling that this was the right direction to go. But obviously after FP2, I realised that it wasn't. It's as simple as that. And yeah, then it was all about re-adapting to everything in FP3 as quickly as possible, but also there I have been quite inconsistent. And then, coming into Qualifying, I put everything together. And the last lap in Q3 was really good. I mean, Carlos has done an incredible job since FP1, he's been on it, and in Q3 as well, his lap was really, really good. But yeah, happier to be that close.

And with the ATA this weekend. We've seen all three tyre compounds used in that Qualifying session. How did the car perform on each tyre?
CL: Well, I think it wasn't too bad. Compared to the others, I feel we probably struggled a bit more on the Hard, especially on the first lap, straight out the box. We seem to struggle a bit more to put them into temperature but, apart from that, it was good on all three compounds.

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