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Curses Aside, Sainz Hoping To End Verstappen’s Record Run

  • 3 min read

Carlos Sainz shrugged off encouraging statistics and ‘curses’ on Saturday as he set his sights on winning Ferrari’s home Italian Grand Prix and slamming the brakes on Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s record run.

The Spaniard sent the massed ranks of Ferrari fans wild by taking pole position on a sunny afternoon at Monza, lapping just 0.013 faster than the runaway world championship leader who qualified second.

Sunday will be another story, with Red Bull rapid on race pace and Verstappen chasing his 10th win in a row and his team’s 15th in succession.

Sainz recognised it would be tough but said he would do all he could to deliver the dream result.

“We have got the motivation and the energy to win,” said the Spaniard, whose only win to date was in Britain last year and who celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday with the fastest lap in practice.

“The car has been good all weekend, especially over one lap, but what I have seen from the long runs, I am not going to lie, it is trickier, it is not the same picture as in qualifying,” he added.

“As soon as Red Bull puts five or six laps on the tyre, their strengths and race pace comes through… we will need to work as a team and give it our best shot.

“It is a good opportunity tomorrow but being realistic, Red Bull will be quicker but we have to make their life as complicated as possible and try to take the win.”

No team has won every race in a season in the modern era but McLaren came closest in 1988 when they triumphed in all but one of 16 with a lineup of Formula One greats Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Their sole defeat came at Monza, when a Ferrari team mourning the death of founder Enzo took a one-two finish with Gerhard Berger leading Michele Alboreto.

The last three winners at Monza have failed to finish on their return the following year, an omen some have talked up somewhat fancifully as a potential Monza winners’ curse. Verstappen won in 2022.

“Maybe you should ask Max? Honestly, I don’t believe in statistics too much and this kind of curse,” said Sainz when asked about that.

“On Sunday, the winner is the one who deserves it the most and is quicker and I am just going to try to be that one. I go into tomorrow trying to enjoy the day and starting on pole in Monza.”

Ferrari last won at the ‘Temple of Speed’ in 2019 with Leclerc. Sainz was second in 2020 with McLaren.