Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari, Monza, 2023

Sainz denies Verstappen by one-hundredth to put Ferrari on pole at home

2023 Italian Grand Prix qualifying

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Carlos Sainz Jnr sent the Tifosi into rapture at Monza by pipping Max Verstappen to pole position for the Italian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver snatched pole by 0.013s from the championship leader with his final lap in a dramatic conclusion to qualifying. His team mate Charles Leclerc was less than a tenth of a second slower but will line up third, while George Russell took fourth on the grid for Mercedes ahead of Sergio Perez.


Under the Alternative Tyre Allocation format in effect for the Italian Grand Prix weekend, all 20 drivers participating in Q1 were restricted to hard compound tyres only for the first phase of qualifying. With 18 minutes for the opening session, there was no great rush out onto the circuit as qualifying began.

The two AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and Liam Lawson were the first to take the the track, both on used hard tyres. Their first timed laps were easily beaten by Kevin Magnussen on new hards, before Max Verstappen moved to the top at the end of his first flying lap. However, the championship leader’s time was immediately deleted after he was deemed to have run wide at the exit of the second Lesmo.

Alexander Albon put his Williams to the top with his first lap of a 1’22.123, but with neither Ferrari, Aston Martin nor Verstappen having set a time. Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc were only quick enough for fourth and ninth, respectively, with their first push laps. Track limits continued to catch some drivers out: Fernando Alonso also had his time deleted for running wide at Lesmo 2.

Verstappen’s second attempt at a flying lap was comfortably quick enough for the fastest in the session, and Sergio Perez moved up to second in the other Red Bull. Alonso put himself third with his first legitimate lap time. Leclerc soon replaced him in third, slotting between the Red Bulls and the Aston Martin.

Some of those nearer the drop zone fitted second sets of hard tyres for the final minutes, including Lewis Hamilton, who improved on his position but only to 10th. Surprisingly, Oscar Piastri was sat in the drop zone in 17th as he headed out for his final run, while his McLaren team mate Lando Norris was only 13th ahead of him. Piastri moved into safety in 12th, but had his time deleted for track limits at the second Lesmo, putting him under intense pressure for his final flying laps.

In the final minute, Piastri was joined in the bottom five by Valtteri Bottas, Lance Stroll, and the two Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Bottas moved safe into 12th, with Piastri doing the same. That dropped Zhou Guanyu into elimination in 16th, along with the two Alpine drivers behind him. Magnussen failed to follow his team mate into Q2 in 19th, with Stroll the last driver knocked out, slowest of all.

Before the second phase of qualifying began, race control announced that both Ferrari drivers, Leclerc and Sainz, would be investigated after the end of qualifying for potentially exceeding the maximum lap time that had been extended to apply to out laps for today’s session.

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Q1 result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’21.5739
223Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’21.6610.0889
316Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’21.7880.2159
422Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’21.8520.2799
511Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’21.9110.3389
62Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’21.9300.3579
755Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’21.9650.3929
844Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’21.9770.4049
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’21.9950.4229
1014Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’22.0430.4708
1181Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’22.1060.53310
1240Liam LawsonAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’22.1120.5399
1363George RussellMercedesW141’22.1480.5759
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’22.2490.6768
1527Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’22.3430.77010
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’22.3900.8178
1710Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’22.5450.9727
1831Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’22.5480.9758
1920Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’22.5921.0198
2018Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’22.8601.2879

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For the second phase of qualifying, the remaining 15 drivers were mandated to run only on the medium compound tyres. Verstappen set the early pace with a 1’21.035, but Perez was almost four tenths slower than his team mate after his first push lap.

Albon beat Perez by a tenth to go second. Ferrari’s first timed laps were also strong, with Sainz taking the top spot with his first effort, four-hundredths of a second quicker than Verstappen as Leclerc slotted into third behind them.

Mercedes looked like they were at genuine risk of failing to progress into Q3, so would have been pleased to see George Russell’s first lap put him sixth. However, team principal Toto Wolff’s brow was furrowed when Hamilton crossed the line at the end of his first push lap to only go 12th, a tenth away from the safety of the top ten. Hamilton complained Perez had got in his way before the lap began, the Red Bull driver passing the Mercedes on his way to the pits.

As teams prepared for their final runs of the second session, Hamilton was sitting in the bottom five along with Hulkenberg’s Haas ahead and Lawson, Logan Sargeant and Bottas behind him. All 15 cars chose to head out together in the final three minutes, all on a fresh set of tyres.

Everyone successfully reached the timing line before the chequered flag to earn a final flying lap, though it was a close call as the last cars left the pits less than two mintues before the chequered flag dropped. Hamilton improved his time, as did Leclerc, who went fastest of all until Verstappen pipped him by four-hundredths of a second.

Norris flirted with disaster. He was passed by Verstappen and Bottas before starting his final lap, failed to improve, and avoided falling into the drop zone by just 0.013s.

Despite improving on their final laps, both Tsunoda and Lawson were knocked out together in 11th and 12th, while Hulkenberg was eliminated in 13th after he did not improve on his last effort. Bottas went faster on his last lap but it was only good enough for 14th, while Sargeant was knocked out slowest after running wide at Alboreto (formerly Parabolica) on his crucial final lap.

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Q2 result

11Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’20.93715
216Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’20.9770.04015
355Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’20.9910.05414
411Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’21.2400.30315
523Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’21.2720.33515
644Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’21.3690.43215
763George RussellMercedesW141’21.3820.44515
881Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’21.5270.59018
914Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’21.5430.60613
104Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’21.5810.64417
1122Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’21.5940.65715
1240Liam LawsonAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’21.7580.82115
1327Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’21.7760.83916
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’21.9401.00314
152Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’21.9441.00715

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For the all-important third and final phase of qualifying, the top 10 drivers could only use the softest tyres available. The two Red Bulls headed out on track first, with Verstappen ahead of team mate Perez, as the rest of the field following behind them.

Verstappen set the benchmark with a 1’20.631, dipping a wheel into the gravel at the Roggia. Perez was almost three-tenths slower than his team mate after he crossed the line for the first time. But the Tifosi in the grandstands burst into a roar when first Leclerc, then Sainz beat Verstappen with Sainz setting the provisional pole time with a 1’20.532, just three-hundredths ahead of team mate Leclerc.

The two Red Bulls were split, first by Albon, then by Russell’s Mercedes too – demoting Perez to sixth place, ahead of the two McLarens of Norris and Piastri. The field returned to the garage for the final time to prepare for their last runs. Leclerc venturing out first, and therefore lacked the benefit of a tow, followed by Verstappen and Sainz.

Leclerc was a tenth of a second quicker than Verstappen in the first sector, but the Red Bull gained half of that back in the second second. Leclerc completed his lap to jump into provisional pole, but he was left heartbroken when Verstappen pipped him by half a tenth.

All Ferrari’s hopes were on Sainz’s shoulders and he crossed the line to jump ahead of Verstappen by just 0.013s and snatch pole position to the delight of himself, his team and the tens of thousands in the grandstands. Adding to their joy, any lingering doubt over Sainz’s pole position was lifted when the stewards swiftly announced that there would be no further action against both Ferrari drivers for potentially exceeding the maximum lap time in Q1.

Sainz was therefore confirmed on pole ahead of Verstappen with Leclerc behind the pair in third. Russell jumped ahead of Perez at the chequered flag into fifth place, with Albon taking sixth on the grid for Williams. The McLarens of Piastri and Norris were split by Hamilton, with Alonso rounding out the top ten.

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Q3 result

155Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’20.29420
21Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’20.3070.01321
316Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’20.3610.06721
463George RussellMercedesW141’20.6710.37721
511Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’20.6880.39421
623Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’20.7600.46621
781Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’20.7850.49124
844Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’20.8200.52621
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’20.9790.68523
1014Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’21.4171.12319

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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25 comments on “Sainz denies Verstappen by one-hundredth to put Ferrari on pole at home”

  1. I’m surprised both Alpine drivers failed to reach Q2.
    One driver failing at that isn’t really surprising anymore, but both simultaneously, yes.

    1. Not that surprising, rather shows the weakness of the engine.

    2. And they were slow all session and there were 3 thousandths between them, hinting something’s wrong with the car, not the drivers.

  2. 1′ 20.820

    1. 1’20.307… lol

  3. pizza_pazzo2004
    2nd September 2023, 17:00


  4. Good for him!

    Also shows Verstappen had a good lap, considering. He should be the favourite for the win still, but both Ferrari will be keen to fight him hard tomorrow.

  5. Red Bull using a way draggier rear wing and still losing pole for the tiniest of margins.

    My bet is Max, a Ferrari, and Perez on 3rd doing the bare minimum again.

    1. I appreciate the optimism of some of the comments, but if Max had crashed in Q1 and started in 20th I still wouldn’t bet against him winning in that car. It’s been super fast with DRS down the straights all year.

      1. It’s actually what we need to make a race interesting: verstappen starting from the back, as he gets rid of all the midfielders the front runners could have some gap, then he’d have to catch up with them.

  6. I’m a time traveler and Max still dominates “tomorrow”. The RedBull takes the lead on lap 3 and wins by 21 seconds. Quote me on this tomorrow!

    1. If nothing apocalyptic happens to verstappen I wouldn’t be surprised by your prediction.

  7. 0.685 separating the top 9. That’s intense.
    Impressive from Sainz. Just imagine if Ferrari had the best car and we could see Sainz and Leclerc battle for the championship, it would be epic.

    1. True, I noticed, even in q2 it was insanely tight, with all 15 cars in the space of 1 second.

  8. Ferrari chose well to set up the car for pole today rather than the race on Sunday, since Max will likely win the race anyway. They will get good write ups in the Italian press. Obviously their car does like the long straights. Who knows they might also get a podium tomorrow. 2nd for Sainz and Lec ahead of Perez [maybe too optimistic]

    The long straights are not good for McLaren, by contrast. But Mr Oscar Piastri is proving to be the real deal.

    1. Ocon must be so happy that Alpine failed to sign Piastri on time

      1. And probably piastri himself must be happy too they were slow with him, else he’d be stuck in this horrible car!

  9. In the unlikely event that one of the Ferrari’s beats Max tomorrow I think the driver would be beatified. It would be exciting though.

    1. A one-two again beating the dominating car on home soil would be epic.

      That’s what i’ll be rooting to see even if it’s unlikely.

      1. True, an impressive thing about mclaren in 2021 is that, also because of reliability\penalty reasons, the stronger teams didn’t get any 1-2 that year, but mclaren did at monza: red bull lost the 1-2 in baku because of verstappen’s tyre issue 4 laps to go, and mercedes had a really strong car in turkey, where bottas kept verstappen at bay, but hamilton, who would’ve otherwise been on pole, had a 10 place penalty for some component change, that’s what cost their 1-2.

  10. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    2nd September 2023, 19:22

    Just wondering how Carlos will bin this opportunity. Probably spin it in the first corner under no pressure.

    1. Most likely just gets overtaken on first lap or two then falls off the podium places not long after.

  11. Thinking Ferrari blows it tomorrow. They couldn’t manage their drivers to lap at the max time during Q1. Just terrible race management

  12. Did they really rename Parabolica to Alboreto? That’s been one of the most iconic corners for 101 years how are you just going to change it now?

  13. Tifoso scuderia
    2nd September 2023, 21:30

    Forza Ferrari, vamos Carlos!

    Just hope they can perform as good in the race… fingers crossed!

Comments are closed.