Having rued his struggles with his W14 in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton appears to have questioned Ferrari’s “sudden” improvement at their home circuit.
In the middle of a season in which Max Verstappen has dominated qualifying, Carlos Sainz bagged his first pole position of the campaign at Monza on Saturday where he was 0.013s ahead of the Red Bull driver.
With his teammate Charles Leclerc up in third place, Saturday marked Ferrari’s best qualifying showing of the season.
Lewis Hamilton questions Ferrari’s ‘sudden’ pace advantage
That was in contrast to Hamilton’s performance with the seven-time World Champion only eighth fastest, half a second down on Sainz’s P1 time.
“I lost it all in I think the second or last sector, I was up in the first, a bit of the second, but I was just struggling with the car,” Hamilton lamented to the media including PlanetF1.com.
“Our car just in general is very hard to optimise, there’s nothing easy about this one.”
That he lost out to the Williams of Alex Albon and the McLaren of Oscar Piastri seemed to irk him, the Briton telling Sky Sports “to be leapfrogged by the Williams and the McLaren it’s not easy” while he later questioned Ferrari’s pace to DAZN F1.
“This is their home race, they have new engines and suddenly they are the fastest car on the grid, that’s what it is, but hey, I like to see them up there,” he reportedly told the broadcaster.
Ferrari’s pace advantage, though, can be explained through straight-line speed with the circuit map clearly showing Sainz’s advantage over Verstappen on the straights with the Dutchman in control of the corners.
That was largely down to the teams’ wing choices.
Why was Carlos Sainz faster than Max Verstappen?
This weekend Ferrari opted for a circuit-specific rear wing design for their home race, one designed to boost straight-line speed.
Arriving at Monza with the smallest rear wing feasible, the design incorporated a much flatter mainplane than teams would ordinarily run, with the team also trimming the front wing’s upper flap quite significantly too.
As for Red Bull, they went with a bigger wing.
That meant on the long run down to Turn 1, Ferrari reached terminal speed of 350km/h with the Red Bull slower at just 343km/h, Sainz said to be on average 5km/h quicker than Verstappen on the various straights.