Carlos Sainz Jr. says Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Friday afternoon highlighted just how Scuderia Ferrari have come since the same race of 2020, but he knows there is still work to do in order to get to where they feel they belong at the front of the field.
2020 saw both Ferrari’s eliminated early in Qualifying, but 2021 saw both make it through to the top ten shootout, with Sainz qualifying seventh, albeit 0.907 seconds down on polesitter Valtteri Bottas.
Sainz felt he managed to extract everything he could out of his car during Qualifying, even if everyone within the team knew early on that a top five placing on the grid was going to be difficult to achieve.
“I think today we showed we have made good progress since last year and we did a good job with both cars in Q3,” said Sainz. “We obviously want to be further up the order and even more so in front of the tifosi, but I think today we extracted the maximum out of the car.
“Q1 was quite tricky because of traffic and unfortunately we quickly understood we were a bit too far away from the top 5. Despite that, we kept improving throughout the session and managed to put together a good lap in the end for P7.
“Overall it was a solid session. It’s a decent starting position for tomorrow and we will fight to gain positions in the Sprint Quali and on Sunday.”
“Qualifying was really tough for me today” – Charles Leclerc
Team-mate Charles Leclerc will line-up alongside Sainz in eighth despite the Monegasque racer struggling with a technical issue throughout the three segments of Qualifying.
Leclerc revealed that he had a problem with the electronic management of the engine braking during the session that made it tricky for him to get the maximum out of the car, particularly in Q1, but he believes it will be fine for the rest of the weekend.
The former Italian Grand Prix race winner says he will be looking to move up some positions during Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying in order to give him a good position for Sunday’s main race.
“Qualifying was really tough for me today,” said Leclerc. “We had an issue throughout the sessions with the electronic management of the engine braking. The situation was especially tricky in Q1, but for Q3 it had slightly improved and it should be fine for tomorrow.
“All things considered, eighth is a good result. We will try to gain some positions in Sprint Qualifying to secure a good starting position for Sunday’s race.”