Sainz showed he’d made “step forward” with Monza pole and podium – Vasseur

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur says Carlos Sainz Jnr’s pole position and podium finish at the Italian Grand Prix were not just his best results of the season, but the outcome of his best overall performance this year.

Sainz led two of the three practice sessions and took his first pole position of the season last weekend. In the race he scored his first podium finish of the year, which helped lift Ferrari back up to third in the constructors’ standings.

“It’s the first time that we are able to fight with Red Bull, but the Red Bull pace was better than us for sure,” said Vasseur. “But we were able to stay to match [them] for a good part of the race. And for sure it was the best weekend overall.

“I’m more than pleased also for Carlos because I think he did a step forward. Not necessarily in the quali and the race, but I would say also into the preparation of the weekend and from lap one of FP1 he was there. And it’s a good lesson also for the rest of the season.”

Sainz said his weekend “was definitely a big step forward compared to Zandvoort”, where he had finished fifth from sixth on the grid a week earlier. “This weekend we’ve been best of the rest, which is a good result for the team given the circumstances,” he said.

In the closing stages of the race Sainz came under pressure from Charles Leclerc. However Sainz kept his team mate behind, outscored him for the second race in a row, and is now six points ahead of Leclerc in the championship.

Sainz said his performance at Monza had been one of the best of his career. “I’ve done other strong weekends in F1 that maybe got a bit unnoticed when I was in the midfield where I felt I extracted everything out of the car. Of this year, for sure, of my Ferrari career probably [it’s the best].

“Of my F1 career, it’s a tough call but I felt like this weekend I was on it from the beginning, comfortable with the car especially over one lap. I felt really, really at home.

“I could put together strong laps [on Saturday] and snatch pole but [the race] was again a bit tougher and it shows me exactly where we need to keep working on. I will put my head down and keep pushing the team to keep working on our tyre understanding and our race pace understanding.”

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2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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7 comments on “Sainz showed he’d made “step forward” with Monza pole and podium – Vasseur”

  1. Good for you, Frederic, from now on you could stop prioritising Charles. You never let the race when Charles is ahead, even when Carlos is clearly faster and on a better strategy.

    1. When was Sainz behind Leclerc, clearly faster and on a better strategy and not allowed to race him?

      1. I don’t remember when he was ever allowed to race him. I may have forgotten some case, since I’m not one those who remember what happened in each race, but my impression is that whenever Sainz is behind, he’s been told to remain there. And he was behind and obviously faster more than once this season, with softer tires than he had to spend following Leclerc on harder compound. I’m fine with the team not imposing orders on Leclerc when he’s in front (even if that makes sense, for the good of the team, but I’m no fan of Ferrari or any team so I don’t care), but not let Sainz race him I don’t get. Leclerc is their number 1 driver and that’s very, very obvious (it wasn’t the case last year), but in truth, I don’t think he’s better enough to justify that. Sainz is smarter and often better in races, and lately he’s also not slower in qualy, definitely not by much (and he often wins that battle).

      2. @roadrunner off the top of my head, Austria and Hungary

    2. Can’t recall any said situation to be honest.
      Carlos has usually been the slower driver in quali and that determines a lot of the strategy in the race.
      Ferrari has been quite permissive generally, I wouldn’t be surprised that they would allow a swap if Sainz was clearly faster even with nothing to gain in front.

    3. As recently as in the Hungaroring, with Carlos stuck behind with softer tyres. And btw Charles has been given the undercut to get ahead of Carlos at least twice this year: Silverstone and the Hungaroring. How this benefits the team is unclear to me.

      At Monza clearly Fezza was unhappy with Carlos in the podium, they wanted Charles there. Charles had DRS and fresher tyres (Carlos’s were demolished by the almost race-long fight with both Red Bulls). However Carlos managed to win even when Charles threw it all on him on T1 in the last lap. If Carlos had assumed that he could not realistically keep the Red Bulls behind and had let them pass (which rationally speaking maybe he should have done) there would have been no fight with Charles.

      I can (grudgingly) accept TO when there is a clear difference and a benefit for the team, not just for one pilot. But although Carlos is very often maligned in this forum, I find there is very little to choose between both drivers. Bot are pretty good and I reckon Charles does have a bit more natural speed, but he is inconsistent and makes too many unforced mistakes. He is no rookie and should have matured by now. On the other hand Carlos is way more consistent and you need consistence over a season. After almost 3 years together and often with Fezza behind Charles (much more blatantly with Vasseur than with Binotto) the stats are really close. Sainz was ahead in 2021, Charles in 2022, and in 2023 Carlos is currently slightly ahead. Time will tell.

      1. Hungary? Sainz was faster for exactly the first couple of laps than he slowly dropped away from Leclerc as his tyres degraded more quickly. Austria I don’t remember to be honest. I thought he was way ahead in the sprint and way behind in the race. There was some kind of truce at Canada while the Ferrari made it through slower traffic, I admit that. But I think that would also have been the case with Sainz ahead.
        Don’t get me wrong I think Sainz is a very good driver who is almost as fast as Leclerc with less stupid errors. I just didn’t buy the narrative that he was Ferraris favourite last year and I don’t buy it either that this year it is Leclerc. I think Ferrari is managing it pretty well between the both of them giving them equal opportunities and let them race most of the time when it’s not detrimental to the teams interest.

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