Charles Leclerc was instructed to take “no risks” in the final laps whilst battling Carlos Sainz. Although disaster was avoided, it cannot be denied that close calls defined the battles between Ferrari’s duo. Speaking post-race, Leclerc outlined his perspective on the podium fight.
Ferrari generally maximised their package in Monza, putting the SF-23 in contention during the opening stage. Sainz and Leclerc were successful in giving the Red Bull-Verstappen combination some early headaches.
However, in typical fashion for the 2023 season, Verstappen took control of the Grand Prix. It became clear that third place would be the most heavily contested result in Italy.
After Perez put himself into second place, Ferrari found themselves with a comfortable 3-4.
A podium finish and strong points haul was near-guaranteed, but Charles Leclerc was eager to greet the Tifosi on the podium.
Following the 51 laps of action, the Monegasque discussed a tense end of the race:
“With Max, I’ve had these kinds of fights in the past. Today [it] was with Checo and Carlos,” he explained.
“We, I think, were always at the limit of the regulations, whether it was defending or attacking – and that’s exactly how I enjoy racing. So it was fun.
“Congrats to Carlos, he’s been really on it since the first lap in FP1, but I’m happy today.”
Leclerc’s final comments should be emphasised, with his Spanish teammate operating at a very high level since Friday’s practice.
There will be debate about Ferrari’s decision to allow both drivers to battle so intensely, especially given the several near-misses in the closing laps.
Discussion of this topic could detract from a generally positive weekend for the Maranello outfit. At a weekend when the SF-23 was expected to perform well, the Italian machine showed good pace.
Red Bull continues to dominate the top step of the podium, but Ferrari at least managed to optimise the points available.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang