#55 Carlos Sainz, (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari during the Italian GP, Monza 31 August-3 September 2023 Formula 1 World championship 2023.

F1: Sainz Jr. wins fierce battle for Italian GP pole

With the tifosi cheering the Ferrari’s on, Carlos Sainz Jr. turned a lap of 1m20.294s to nip Max Verstappen by 0.013s for the Italian GP pole.

–by Mark Cipolloni–

The ground was shaking when first the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc took pole, only for Max Verstappen to take it away, but not for long. Carlos Sainz Jr. used the slipstream of Verstappen to take pole for Ferrari by the slimmest of margins, and the partisan crowd went wild.

The partisan Italian crowd went crazy
The partisan Italian crowd went crazy. You could feel the ground shake.

There is nothing like the electricity at Monza, especially when a Ferrari is on top.

“Honestly, it’s been such an intense qualifying, especially Q3,” said Sainz Jr. “We all three went for it, all on the limit.

“Goosebumps since I crossed the finish line, getting out of the car and seeing [the crowd] – it’s incredible. It’s the best feeling you can have as a driver. Tomorrow, I’m going to hold on to that P1, I’m going to give it my all.”

Sainz Jr. pulls out to make his pole run
Sainz Jr. pulls out to make his pole run

“It was good, we made some good improvements compared to yesterday,” said Verstappen.

“I’m happy to be second today. Of course, tomorrow we’ll try to win the race, we normally have a quick race car but let’s just enjoy today.”

Leclerc could barely get a word out – he was smiling and laughing at the crowd, who were drowning out everything he said. Such an electric atmosphere, and it’s not even Italian Grand Prix day.

“My feeling can only be amazing with the Tifosi of course,” said third place Leclerc.

“On my side I’m disappointed, I obviously wanted to be first but to see Carlos is there for Ferrari… In Q3 I didn’t have the slipstream and this cost us one position at least. I don’t smile very often when I’m P3 but being here and having this much support is an amazing feeling.”

George Russell was 4th for Mercedes, 0.377s behind, and Sergio Perez rounded out the top-5 in the 2nd Red Bull.

Alex Albon was 6th for Williams, just ahead of rookie Oscar Piastri’s McLaren in 7th.

Lewis Hamilton was 8th in the 2nd Mercedes, unable to even beat his teammate.

If there was a place to break the Red Bull stranglehold, this is it. The track is unusual in its characteristics, some of Red Bull’s advantages are neutralized, and the fans can only lift both Ferrari drivers.

Qualifying Results

1 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:21.965 1:20.991 1:20.294 20
2 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:21.573 1:20.937 1:20.307 21
3 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:21.788 1:20.977 1:20.361 21
4 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:22.148 1:21.382 1:20.671 21
5 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 1:21.911 1:21.240 1:20.688 21
6 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 1:21.661 1:21.272 1:20.760 21
7 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 1:22.106 1:21.527 1:20.785 24
8 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.977 1:21.369 1:20.820 21
9 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:21.995 1:21.581 1:20.979 23
10 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:22.043 1:21.543 1:21.417 19
11 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 1:21.852 1:21.594 15
12 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri Honda 1:22.112 1:21.758 15
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 1:22.343 1:21.776 16
14 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:22.249 1:21.940 14
15 2 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 1:21.930 1:21.944 15
16 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:22.390 8
17 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 1:22.545 7
18 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:22.548 8
19 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:22.592 8
20 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:22.860 9
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