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Ferrari Extracted the Absolute Most From the Italian GP

The Italian GP was one of the best races of the 2023 season so far and it was in large part thanks to Ferrari....

The Italian Grand Prix was one of the best races of the 2023 season so far and it was in large part thanks to Ferrari. After Carlos Sainz grabbed pole position on Saturday, we knew he couldn’t beat the Red Bulls, but the team ensured Red Bull had to work harder than they have all season for this victory., while Ferrari overtook Aston Martin for third in the Constructors’ Championship with a solid P3 and P4 finish.

The man responsible or at least involved in most of the drama was Carlos Sainz who managed to snake pole from Max Verstappen by about a hundredth of a second. Sainz was optimistic before the weekend as he knew the high-speed circuit at Monza would favour the unpredictable SF-23.

We know that the Ferrari is a qualifying machine, but their advantage over one lap typically evaporates during the race. The same could be said of Ferrari at Monza, but Sainz managed to keep Verstappen behind for 15 laps in what was a stunning showcase of skill and speed.

P3 was realistically the best Ferrari could have hoped for given the circumstances, as even Sainz had to concede that “Red Bull were in the end quite a bit quicker than [Ferrari] today.” While a podium finish isn’t what Ferrari aspire to, they did manage to extract the maximum from the weekend.   

The Ferrari had blistering top speed which kept the Red Bulls at bay. Though it was only a matter of time that Verstappen would overtake Sainz thanks to the Red Bull being much kinder on its tyres. Sainz had to try “everything [he] could to keep them behind” which he admits almost cost him a podium as Sergio Perez closed in followed by Charles Leclerc.

Sergio Perez said that he was close to Sainz almost the whole time but struggled to get ahead of him because of Red Bull’s comparatively lacking straight-line speed.

“It was so difficult to overtake,” Perez said, “we were lacking straight-line speed. I was close at the Parabolica, but it was not enough.

“I was most of the time 0.3s [behind], I knew 0.2 would give me a chance, but 0.3 I will not even get close.”

When asked if Sainz’s performance was one his best ever, he said: “I’m not sure in F1. Of this year? For sure. Of my Ferrari career? Probably. Of my F1 career? It’s a tough, tough call.”

The Driver of the Day couldn’t rest for a moment as his teammate, Charles Leclerc, jumped at the opportunity to steal the podium from Sainz, but the Spaniard had the speed despite his tyres screaming in pain.

Leclerc said it was “probably the most enjoyable race of the season” though the battle between him and his teammate was entertaining for viewers, it was definitely an added stress for others, particularly the Ferrari pit wall.

“I am sure for the pits, they wouldn’t give the same answer and I’m sure some of the Tifosi maybe didn’t enjoy as much as I did with Carlos,” Leclerc said.

“This is exactly what racing should be. In the past with Max, I’ve had similar fights, with Checo it was on the limit too. With Carlos, it was on the limit whether it was defending or attacking and that made it really enjoyable inside the car.

“At the end of it, we maximised the team’s points and the maximum result we could have done as a team.”  

Ferrari proudly state that they have no number one driver, each driver is treated equally, but I’m sure plenty of fans would have been happy with some team orders to secure the best points possible. There were team orders for Leclerc not to attack Sainz on the last lap, but that only came after around four laps of Sainz defending Leclerc’s onslaught.

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