Sainz reveals his McLaren years inspiration behind F1 Italian GP pole

Carlos Sainz took inspiration from Monza laps produced previously in his Formula 1 career – particularly when he drove for McLaren – to find the edge that gained the 2023 Italian Grand Prix pole.

Pole man Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Sainz beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to claim the top spot on the grid for Ferrari’s home race by just 0.013s, with his team-mate Charles Leclerc only 0.054s further back in third. 

The Spaniard explained afterwards that although he had led FP2 and FP3 this weekend, and taken second behind Verstappen in FP1, at no stage before his final qualifying efforts had he taken the risks necessary to find a clear edge through several critical corners at this park-based circuit with his SF-23 on the limit. 

When asked by Autosport how he felt finally doing so had made the difference to beat Verstappen, Sainz said his approach was “typical here in Monza”. 

He then revealed his thoughts before his final fliers had gone back to earlier flying laps at the Monza track, which included his McLaren stint in 2019-2020. 

“You have such a light feeling with the car [here] that you never really are willing in practice to take the car to the absolute limit and to as [have to] do in Q3 when it counts,” he added.  

“I’ve had a few good laps here in Q3 and I remember my McLaren days and even last year here I had a really good run around Ascari and Parabolica – when you go and remove that fear a bit and go to take the ultimate risk.  

“And today it worked again. I just got into that corner, that is an incredibly fast corner and the car feels incredibly light and you just hope it grips and it did, like it’s been all weekend.  

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“I had a very good run through there and I could take pole by hundredths.” 

Sainz, who received a rapturous reception from the massed Ferrari fans when he pipped Verstappen to pole, the fourth of his F1 career, also described how he had had “good fun [in] this qualifying session” during the post-session press conference.  

He continued: “I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed the battle all the way from Q3 run one, when we did 1m20.5s all three of us [Verstappen actually registered a 1m20.631s on his first Q3 effort].  

“I knew it was going to be super tight and all about the details and risks into the second run. And it was really good fun.”

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