Carlos Sainz says the Ferrari SF-23 certainly feels different around Monza after the Spaniard claimed an “amazing” pole position at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix in front of the Tifosi on Saturday.
The 29-year-old got the best of Max Verstappen and teammate Charles Leclerc, narrowly beating them with a time of 1:20.294 to claim his first pole position of the season.
Given the result came in front of the Tifosi, Sainz admits pulling off the feat was quite special.
“Difficult to put into words and describe the feeling,” Sainz said to select members of the media, including Total-Motorsport.com. “It’s just amazing, just the whole weekend really, since we arrived here on Wednesday.
“The support and the feeling with the crowd and the energy that they put into us, it’s incredible. I had my birthday yesterday also so I enjoyed that, and I’m pretty sure it gave me a good feeling, good vibes and good energy for today.
“I’ve been feeling very comfortable with the car and I put together honestly one of my best laps there in Q3. It was tight with these two like it used to be last year.”
Sainz on why Ferrari look strong at Monza
Sainz’s pole position comes after he topped FP3 earlier in the day and FP2 on Friday.
The Spaniard admits that he’s just been dialled in since the start of the weekend, which is quite the turn around from Ferrari’s struggles at the Dutch GP last weekend.
When asked why the SF-23 is performing better at Monza, Sainz noted Ferrari are just able to get more out of the car around the high-speed circuit.
“I guess our efficiency, like we’ve seen at some tracks this year, it’s pretty good,” said Sainz. “And the car honestly, since we put it on track in FP1, it just felt completely different to what it did in Zandvoort.
“It’s what it is, it’s what we are getting this year. We are getting some very good weekends and some other very tough ones. We just need to make sure at the good ones we try to maximize like we did today, and at the tough ones we learn how to suffer and and get the best out of it.
“But honestly the car today, I cannot fault it, it was a really, really good balance. It gave me a lot of confidence through sector two, Ascari and Parabolica. I think that is where I made the major difference when it counted.”
Chance of victory?
While Ferrari looked good in qualifying, Red Bull have proven unstoppable on raceday, winning all 13 races so far.
Sainz expects that to continue on Sunday, though he’ll do all that he can to reverse that trend.
“We’ve got the motivation and the energy to do it,” said Sainz.
“The car has been very good this weekend, especially over one lap. From what I’ve seen through the long runs, I’m not gonna lie, it’s trickier, it’s not the same picture as quali.
“That Red Bull, as soon as you put five or six laps on the tyre and everything starts to degrade a bit, that’s where you see their strengths and race pace that we’ve seen all year.
“But hopefully I can get a good start, and then I can make Max, and Checo behind, and Charles’ life obviously, as difficult as possible. I think we we will need to work well as a team and give it our best shot.
“I think it’s it’s a good opportunity tomorrow, but also being realistic, Red Bull should be quicker. We’re just going to try and make their life as complicated as possible and try to take the win.”