Formula 1

The Italian Grand Prix was a step forward for Ferrari, says team principal Mattia Binotto

Ferrari may not have won the Italian Grand Prix, but Team Principal Mattia Binotto expressed his delight at the Scuderia’s improved performance at Monza.

Charles Leclerc won the pole position for the first time since the French GP, while Carlos Sainz finished 18th due to an engine penalty. While Leclerc battled for second place behind Max Verstappen, teammate Sainz produced a brilliant drive to move up to fourth place.

After the race, Binotto expressed his delight at the Ferrari’s improved performance in Italy after a difficult few races, but lamented the late Safety Car, which was caused by Daniel Ricciardo’s DNF and ended Sainz’s chances of passing George Russell for the final podium spot.

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“If we look at the last three races, we have not been great enough,” Binotto said. “We have not been great in pace, and we have not been great in race pace and degradation, but here in Monza, I think we made a step ahead, and it’s clear if you look at the other cars behind us, we made a step ahead in qualifying.”

“We had a great qualifying with our two drivers, and today I think in the race pace, a little more degradation to Max, but still a good performance compared to the other cars.” Carlos ran a fantastic race today, and he has been the one starting from the back and making the most of the progress. He drove extremely well. He was quick at the end on the soft tyres.”

Binotto was pleased with Ferrari’s progress, particularly in qualifying.

“I think with the Safety Car possibly ending early, he could even have attacked George Russell because he was on new soft tyres and finished on the podium,” he continued, “so, overall, I think if your car gives you the opportunity starting from 18th and potentially finishing third, it’s still a good performance.”

Binotto also defended the team’s decision to pit Leclerc from the lead during the Virtual Safety Car period, which was caused by Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, claiming that they needed to try something different if they were to compete with Verstappen.

Sainz laments the late Safety Car as he misses P18 to podium recovery at Monza.

“I think Max was simply faster today,” Binotto said, “but when we were leading the race, we saw that we had a bit more tyre degradation to Max, and our strategy at the time was one-stop, so we would’ve stayed out without the Virtual Safety Car.”

“But then the Virtual Safety Car appeared, and we believed, and I believe it was the right decision, and we simply decided to go on a different strategy of two stops.”

Binotto was grateful for the tifosi’s help over the weekend.

“We simply weren’t on the same strategy as Max because we believe he would have been faster, so we came in. Max and Red Bull were also ready for the pit stop, so they probably would have decided opposite to Charles. We came in, they stayed out. We were on a two-stop strategy, they were on one, and then Max was simply faster.”

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“I think I need a glass of red wine because it’s a very busy weekend. A lot of pressure,” Binotto said of the weekend. “But still our Tifosi was there. I think it’s great to have their support and to see them really cheering us or cheering each time that Carlos was overtaking, it’s still a good emotion.”

Ferrari trails Red Bull by 139 points in the constructors’ championship, but maintains their lead over Mercedes after outscoring the Silver Arrows by five points in Italy.