The best double in the first practice on Friday and a penalty for leader Max Verstappen (Red Bull): Ferrari started its weekend at home with a smile, hoping for a successful return to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Charles Leclerc, 2nd in the championship 109 points behind the Dutch driver, then Carlos Sainz, 5th overall, dominated the first hour and then the second hour of free practice at Monza. Is it enough to hope for victory on Sunday? “Our goal is victory in every race, and that includes Monza,” Scuderia boss Mattia Binotto recalled anyway before the “home” Grand Prix.
Seven races from the end of the season, Ferrari and its manager are on the ropes after a series of technical problems and strategic errors that cost them dearly against the Red Bull machine and its cold-blooded beast Verstappen.
But on Sunday, Leclerc will get a boost: Verstappen will start with a five-place grid penalty.
Two weeks after changing his entire power unit in Belgium, Verstappen is penalized again, this time for an internal combustion engine change on Friday, exceeding the season limit.
Verstappen for the 5th success in a row
But for “Mad Max”, dominating this season with ten victories in fifteen races, this penalty is seen very easily: in Belgium, on August 28, when he started from the 14th position on the grid, the Batavian had climbed everyone before to put. themselves.
After France, Hungary and Belgium, he won his fourth GP in a row at home in Holland last week.
It is this time on Ferrari land and in front of the tifosi that he aims for fifth. And, ahead, the record of thirteen victories in one season held by the Germans Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013).
Leclerc, dropped in the championship race, is looking for his first victory since Austria on July 10. So the Monegasque could remember the osmosis after his success here in 2019, when he had entered the hearts of the fans.
His teammate Sainz will find it more difficult to impose himself: he will start at the back of the grid as he has changed several parts of his car.
At the back, he will be accompanied by Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo), who were penalized for the same reason.
a moment of silence
After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a minute’s silence was observed before the start of practice on Friday, and another should be observed before the race on Sunday.
The teams, most of which are based in England, all paid tribute to the king on Thursday through press releases and some added black cloth to their seats.
This Grand Prix is also an opportunity for Italian motorsport to celebrate three anniversaries: the 75th anniversary of Ferrari as a car manufacturer, 100 years of the Monza circuit and 150 of tire supplier Pirelli.
The Scuderia sports a special livery, splashed with yellow on the usual red, with its drivers wearing yellow. The yellow of the coat of the famous prancing horse is the color, along with the blue, of the city of Modena, where Enzo Ferrari began his great journey – before moving to Maranello.