Vasseur lauded for allowing drivers to fight


Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of the Italian Grand Prix was the no holds barred battle between the Ferrari teammates, and team boss, Frederic Vasseur deserves full credit.

It may have taken a few years off the end of his life, but the Frenchman's decision to let the pair 'go at it' was widely applauded following a race that was far, far better than it might appear on paper.

While there were cat-and-mouse scraps throughout the field, it was battle between Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc for the final podium position that provided the main entertainment.

"For sure, it's much easier to comment when you have a happy end," said the Frenchman at the end of a race which on several occasions looked set to end in tears, "but it was also the best way to thank everybody for the support of the tifosi.

"I was not very comfortable to break something five laps before the end," he admitted, "but I told them no risk at all. Of course, 'no risk' is always relative but I am quite proud of the decision and the job done by the drivers today.

"I really appreciated the last couple of laps," laughed the Frenchman. We'll have the discussion after the race, tomorrow they are in the factory. I don't want to see the replay tonight."

Despite being unable to overhaul his Maranello teammate, Leclerc agreed.

"I personally really enjoyed it," he said. "This is what racing should be all the time, in my opinion. This reminds me of the karting days where we were all on the limit, we could follow each other.

"With the DRS, we could actually stay very close to each other... With Carlos, it was really on the limit.

"It was close many, many times," said the Monegasque of a scrap that saw both drivers lock-up and make minor mistakes, such was the ferocity.

"There were so many moments where it was very tricky," he admitted. "We were both moving a bit too much under braking but at the end, I don't complain. This is what I love about racing, the adrenaline that you feel when you are fighting each other. This was really fun.

"It was on the limit from Carlos on the defending side," he added, "it was on the limit also my side on the attack side. It means so much to both of us to be on the podium here in Monza, so we gave it all. I've always said this is how I love racing. I loved today.

"We will sit down with Fred, I'm sure he needs a bit of a rest for now because his heart rate was high in these last few laps!"

"I never felt too much of a risk," said Sainz. "With a teammate you are always a bit more tense, you leave a bit more space, because it's the last thing you want in Monza in front of the tifosi, the two Ferraris to touch.

"But I think we had a tough battle, we managed to keep it clean and it was good fun. I had fun with Charles, but I also had fun with Max and Checo.

"I would prefer to be the one attacking than the one defending, I'm not going to lie, but today it was my turn to defend and I think I did that well."

Speaking of the final frantic lap when both drivers locked-up in the first chicane as Leclerc made one last try, the Monegasque laughed: "I mean, I was around the outside, I did not expect Carlos to come back a little bit on the left, but it was part of the fight.

"Honestly, I really enjoyed it, I cannot complain. I was fine... I mean, I think I had a smile in the car. It was exciting, tiring at the end with a lot of reaction but it was fun again.

"I'm sure many people did not enjoy that, the guys on the pit wall perhaps had one heart attack or two, the tifosi probably also, but this is what... for me, this is Formula 1, this is what it should be all the time.

"With Max, I've had these kinds of fights in the past, today was with Checo and Carlos. We, I think, were always at the limit of the regulations, whether it was defending or attacking and that's exactly how I enjoy racing.

"So it was fun. Congrats to Carlos, he's been really on it since the first lap in FP1, but I'm happy today."

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Published: 04/09/2023
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