Ferrari pair braced for “much closer” fight with rivals after strong Monza showing

Formula 1

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Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr both say they hope to be the closest team to Red Bull in Singapore despite it being a higher downforce circuit.

Sainz and Leclerc finished third and fourth respectively in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, their strongest combined result of the season so far.

This weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix will take place on the high downforce street circuit at Marina Bay, a very different track to the long straights and quick corners of Monza, which leaves Leclerc cautious about Ferrari’s ability to repeat their performance from Italy.

“We learned plenty during Monza, especially about our weaknesses,” said Leclerc.

“It confirmed that we were stronger on low-downforce tracks, [so] obviously here it’s going to be a bit more of a difficult weekend for us. But there might be a few things that will help us here. After Monza, we understood more things which are good for this year, even though it will be a small step in the right direction, but mostly for designing next year’s car, which is positive.”

Leclerc admits he expects Ferrari’s rivals will be much closer to them in Singapore than they were in Monza.

“It’s quite difficult to get from one weekend in Monza where we are fighting for third position and we are clearly the second-strongest team on track to a weekend like this where we need to reset a little bit and where it will be much closer,” he said. “At least with Mercedes, with McLaren, with also Aston Martin. So we just need to reset a little bit more.

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“It changes so quickly. The tendency seems that whenever we are at low downforce tracks, we are always strong. On high downforce, it’s a bit more inconsistent. It’s one of my favourite tracks though, so I hope we can be at least the second-strongest team.”

Leclerc’s team mate Sainz agrees that the higher downforce demands of Marina Bay will not naturally suit their package for this season.

“We are realistic and theory says that we should not be as quick as Monza,” Sainz admitted. “Normally, up until now, all the high downforce races we’ve struggled a bit more than the low downforce ones.

“Here there are not long combined corners, there are more sharp apexes where our car tends to suffer a bit less. But at the same time, it will be hot, it will be tough on tyres, which we also know can be tricky for us, so let’s see. This year is going to be changing a lot race-to-race and we need to stay open minded.”

Sainz stormed to pole position in Monza, his first of the 2023 season, and finished third after holding off Leclerc at the finish. He later described it as his best weekend in a Ferrari.

“I’ve definitely felt good the last few races in the car,” he said. “We are starting to understand it a lot better and making sure that we put the car in the right place in FP1. It gives you confidence and it’s an easier build up.

“This year I feel like I understand the car a lot better and I’m driving better than last year. It’s just maybe the last two, three weekends I’ve managed to put everything together a bit more and it shows in the results. But the driving and the comfort in the car is good. Now, hopefully, in the second half of the season, my target is to be more consistent and just nail more results, nail more weekends, we can keep doing that like we did in Zandvoort and Monza.”

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2023 Singapore 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...
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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10 comments on “Ferrari pair braced for “much closer” fight with rivals after strong Monza showing”

  1. Fifth fastest car this weekend.

  2. pizza_pazzo2004
    15th September 2023, 10:03


  3. Don’t get why Ferrari would want to blow their own horn after one weekend where they performed well. They’ll probably be slower than Aston and Mercedes at Singapore, and they’ll have to follow it up with “We don’t know why we’re not so competitive here, we’ll analyse and come back stronger”

  4. The tendency seems that whenever we are at low downforce tracks, we are always strong

    Poor memory for Leclerc.
    Silverstone was abominable, Canada was subpar, and at Jeddah they were outperformed.
    Can’t call that “always strong”

    What you can say about Ferrari is that they are always inconsistent, and clearly still have no clue how their car works.

    1. A Scuderia tradition only broken when they were run by outsiders. The non-technical legacy of that bled over into Alonso’s time there. While they gave him mediocre cars, they were generally excellent on pit stop performance and strategy during his time there.

    2. Silverstone is considered to be a medium high to high downforce circuit, as is Jeddah.

  5. I’m glad they’re bracing. Are they battening the hatches too?

    It’s absurdly silly to start talking about a renewed Ferrari when we know they ALWAYS spend significant resources to develop a package to be competitive for the Italian GP because of politically important is for the team. They also put in brand new engines for the race and clearly dialed the power way up.

    1. Well, for example in 2017, a relatively competitive season, where they got some 1-2 as well, they weren’t competitive at monza and mercedes got a 1-2, so don’t think it’s always true. Obviously engine is important at monza and that year merc’s engine was clearly better, ferrari got a 1-2 in hungary and monaco, so opposite levels of downforce.

  6. Well they are 1st & 2nd in FP1 so not certain what they are bracing for other than maybe a shock win on Sunday?

    1. Even though I am not a Ferrari fan, I’d love to see it.

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