With Charles Leclerc starting Ferrari’s home race on pole position, Scuderia race director Laurent Mekies admits he won’t be happy with anything but the win.
Leclerc and Ferrari last won the Italian Grand Prix back in 2019, the Monégasque driver turning pole position into a race win as he held off the Mercedes drivers to win in front of Ferrari’s beloved Tifosi.
This season he faces a different threat, reigning World Champion Max Verstappen.
The Dutchman qualified P2 to Leclerc, 0.145s down on Saturday afternoon, but will line up seventh as a result of an engine penalty. He, however, remains the favourite based on current form.
The Red Bull driver is on a four-race winning streak, his longest ever, while Leclerc has not won a grand prix since July’s Austrian race.
In fact he’s only been on the podium once since that Sunday at the Red Bull Ring.
Mekies, Ferrari’s race director, is hoping Leclerc can break Verstappen’s streak at Monza.
“Charles and Carlos both did a good job, were right up front,” he told Sky Deutschland on Saturday evening. “That’s important at a track that’s not too different from Spa, where we had a lot of difficulties.
“It’s only Saturday, though. We’ve often been happy on Saturday, but on Sunday it gets serious.
“Red Bull and Mercedes then showed better pace in the race a lot of the time. But I’d be lying if I said we’d be happy with anything other than victory.”
Sainz will line up at the back of the grid, down in 18th place, due to engine penalties.
Leclerc was asked about his chances in the post-qualifying press conference, the driver confident his F1-75’s race pace is strong, the feeling was really, really good.
“So, whatever happens in the first lap, I think we still have the pace to win this race, so we’ll try to put everything together, no mistakes during the race and I think we can have a good Sunday.”
Mistakes, though, have been the main headline in Ferrari’s 2022 championship.
The first time in 18 years a @ScuderiaFerrari driver has scored eight poles in one season 🎱
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 10, 2022
While they have cost Leclerc over 100 points, effectively putting him out of the championship fight as he trails Verstappen by 109 points with only eight races remaining, he remains positive.
“I think overall, after each mistake we learned from them and we try to be better as a team,” he said.
“It’s not because we are here in Monza that it’s more important than other races to not doing any mistakes. We need to become a team that does no mistakes wherever we go.
“So yeah, it is a special weekend for us but the target for us doesn’t change. We just need to have a clean race and a good race. So yeah, we’ll be targeting that, and let’s see.”