Ferrari say their decision to bring a bespoke update for their car to the Italian Grand Prix is justified by their performance and not merely because it’s their home race.Monza circuit is the fastest on the calendar and in previous seasons teams have produced special front and rear wings to minimise drag and increase their top speeds. However the introduction of the budget cap has made teams more reluctant to produce special parts for specific races.
Nonetheless Ferrari felt their car’s strong performance at lower downforce tracks meant it was worth making a special effort for the Monza round. Their drivers took first and third on the grid for today’s race.
Charles Leclerc’s performance engineer Jock Clear insisted the team hadn’t brought a special update for Monza merely because it’s their home race.
“Obviously there’s a cost cap and everybody has to decide what they want to spend their money on,” he said. “Nowadays it’s a unique race, the only place where we would run absolutely low downforce.
“But given that, early in the season, we recognised that the lower-downforce was suiting us better, it would have been silly of us, not just from the sentimental point of view, not just that the crowd is full of red, but it’s clearly a circuit that’s going to benefit us.
“We knew that a few months ago. So doing a bespoke package here was the right thing to do from a performance point of view. And of course it comes with a Ferrari being on pole in Monza and that’s [gives] all of us motivation: the crowd, the Tifosi, the drivers. There’s nothing better.”
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Carlos Sainz Jnr gave Ferrari their third pole position yesterday. No team has managed to beat Red Bull so far this season, and Clear isn’t confident that will change today.
“Obviously we weren’t going to come here saying ‘guys, we’re going to smash it in Monza’ – and today’s going to be tough. Don’t get me wrong.
“We’re not looking beyond getting out there and doing the best job we can. And if Red Bull do the best job they can, we’ll see what happens. So again, I’m not in a position to say we are going to smash it today.”
However Ferrari can draw confidence from the accuracy of their prediction that the SF-23 would be competitive at Monza, said Clear.
“Coming into this race, we were confident that we understood enough about the car to know that we would be competitive here. And that’s the most encouraging thing, for next year or any year, when you understand what you’re doing.
“When you get anomalies, and I think we’ve had a couple earlier on in the season. Not specifically over all circuits, but there’s some places where we just couldn’t work out why we were so slow in some corners. And you really have to scratch your head and think there’s something we’re missing here.
“So to come to Monza and for the car to perform exactly as we expected it to is a real fillip for all the design crew, the aero department because that is an affirmation that we know what we’re doing, we understand what this car is doing and therefore we’re projecting for next year, we have every confidence is realistic.”
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2023 Italian Grand Prix
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