Four days on from a difficult Belgian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were on duty at Monza for the first of three rounds on Italian soil this season. The race at Monza is usually the meeting point for Prancing Horse fans from around the world, as they pack the grandstands on this track on the outskirts of Milan, in the hope they will have good cause to stage a track invasion at the end of the race to get to the podium to celebrate with their favourite drivers. In a season so far run behind closed doors, this is probably the track where the absence of fans will be felt the most. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel both commented on this when facing the media at the FIA press conference this afternoon.
Missing them. “A year ago I experienced the most emotional moment of my life and it's a shame that we won’t be seeing the fans on the grandstands,” said Charles. “All the same, we know that this season, we’re not the favourites and we come here off the back of a bad weekend in Belgium with nothing in particular to make us think that the hierarchy among the teams will change here, given that the track characteristics are reasonably similar. I think we should be in slightly better shape than in Spa given that we have a few new parts on the car. But probably it won’t be until Mugello that we will have a clearer picture of the pecking order and will be able to see if third place in the Constructors’ is a realistic goal.”
Emotions. Sebastian also had a word for the Scuderia’s fans. “Monza has always had a special place in my heart, because it was here in 2008 that I scored my first win, with a Ferrari-powered car (Scuderia Toro Rosso, Ed’s note,) and here that I have so often felt the support of the crowd. It will be sad not to be able to count on them in the grandstands, especially as we are struggling this season. From our side, we will do all we can to get the most out of the car. It would be nice to give our supporters something to smile about,” added Seb. “Knowing this is my last year with the team makes this race even more emotional. Maybe we can’t fight for the win but it will still be important to be able to say we did all we could to get the best possible result. That’s the goal I have set myself for this season; to leave Ferrari knowing I have left no stone unturned.”
Determination. Charles also addressed his future with the Scuderia: “I know there is much work to do and I’m ready to be patient because I know it will take time to get back to where we should be. And I also believe I can play a leading role in that. I know I can contribute to helping to speed up the work that needs to be done.”
Programme. In the meantime, the track action starts tomorrow with the two free practice sessions beginning at 11 and again at15 CET. On Saturday the final 60 minutes to prepare for qualifying starts at 12, with the grid decider at 15. On Sunday 6 September, the 71st Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, the eighth round of the 1 World Championship, gets underway at 15.10.