MONZA, Italy — Carlos Sainz is hoping to end Max Verstappen’s record run of consecutive Formula One victories at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, but admits the odds will be stacked against him.
Sainz beat Verstappen to pole position by 0.013s at Monza, leaving the Red Bull driver in second place and sandwiched between both Ferraris on Sunday’s grid.
Verstappen is currently on a run of nine consecutive victories, equalling the record held by Sebastian Vettel since 2013, and has a chance to make the record his own with a tenth win in a row on Sunday.
Red Bull remains unbeaten this season, with Verstappen taking 11 race wins and teammate Sergio Perez two, and while the chances of a Ferrari victory on Sunday remain slim, Sainz is still targeting the top step of the podium.
“I think it can happen, nothing is impossible tomorrow, especially starting from P1,” he said. “At the start I am going to do everything I can to stay ahead of Max.
“I think that looking back at this year, 100 percent of races they have been quicker than us, and clearly quicker, so that makes me feel like it is not going to be easy at all.
“They are going to try to find a way past, one way or another, but if something could happen we would have a very good day tomorrow and get the win.
“I’m just going to try and go into tomorrow with the mindset to win the race and then adapt to the circumstances and race pace of Verstappen.”
Friday practice gave a glimpse of the performance of each car on heavy fuel over multiple laps, with Verstappen’s lap times during his race simulation averaging out 0.4s faster than Sainz’s.
“What we have seen from the long runs, I’m not going to lie, it’s trickier [to fight Verstappen] and not the same picture as qualifying,” he said. “Red Bull, as soon as you put five or six laps on the tyres and everything starts to degrade a bit, that’s where their strength is, and that’s the race pace we have seen all year.
“But hopefully I can get a better start and then make Max’s and Checo’s life as difficult as possible. I think we are willing to work through it as a team and give it our best shot.
“It’s a good opportunity tomorrow, realistically the Red Bull should be quicker, but we are just going to try to make their life as complicated as possible and try to take the win.”
Verstappen pointed out that Ferrari’s Monza-specific upgrade package most likely helped Sainz beat him to pole, but believes his car, which featured a larger rear wing with more downforce, might give him the advantage in the race when limiting tyre degradation will be key.
“I’m not really surprised [Sainz is on pole position], they were quite quick here last year as well,” Verstappen said. “If you look at their rear wing, it’s quite well optimised for Monza.
“If you look at our wing, for one lap it is maybe not the best optimisation, but for a race it should be better.
“[The result is] nothing shocking, to be honest.”