Italian Grand Prix: Ferrari ‘confident’ Charles Leclerc has the speed to fend off Max Verstappen at Monza

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Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok analyzes qualifying laps for Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen ahead of the Italian Grand Prix

Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok analyzes qualifying laps for Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen ahead of the Italian Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc says he is confident his Ferrari has the speed to beat Max Verstappen and secure a home win from pole position in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

Leclerc took pole position at Monza to delight Tifosi but faced a potentially greater challenge to keep the runaway world championship leader Verstappen out of the race on Sunday.

The Dutchman qualified narrowly behind Leclerc in second but will start from seventh, as he is one of nine drivers to receive net penalties for taking new parts.

“Today is good, but now we need to repeat it tomorrow,” Leclerc said. Sky Sports F1. “Tomorrow is crucial, but today the feeling (of the car) is really good. We just need to put everything together and not make mistakes.

“Honestly, I’m pretty sure we got a very good race pace.

Leclerc delights Tifosi as he takes the lead in the team's Grand Prix at Monza

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Leclerc delights Tifosi as he takes the lead in the team’s Grand Prix at Monza

Leclerc delights Tifosi as he takes the lead in the team’s Grand Prix at Monza

“They have a different configuration and higher downforce but I am absolutely confident we can achieve that success.”

On the track with the characteristics most similar to Monza, Belgium’s Spa, Verstappen was quite dominant as he eased to victory last month despite starting 14th on the grid due to penalties, but Leclerc insists things will be different this time.

“I think Max and Red Bull were on another planet at Spa and we were really struggling with the feel of the car,” Leclerc added.

Leclerc says he is full of confidence after taking center stage at the team's Grand Prix at Monza

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Leclerc says he is full of confidence after taking center stage at the team’s Grand Prix at Monza

Leclerc says he is full of confidence after taking center stage at the team’s Grand Prix at Monza

“Because FP1 has been a completely different weekend here, we have worked a lot since the spa to figure out exactly what we did wrong and I think we came up with a lot of different answers that we applied here and hopefully for us we are in a much better position.

“I’m sure Max will be back very quickly to fight with us for first place, but it would be a very bad surprise if we overtake as he did at Spa and pull out.”

Verstappen optimistic about Red Bull’s race setup

Verstappen agreed with Leclerc that a repeat of his Spa advantage was unlikely, but suggested that Red Bull’s race-oriented setup rather than qualifying could help him on Sunday.

“You can already see throughout the weekend that they (Ferrari) were very competitive, and Spa would have been just a coincidence, especially for the other teams,” said Verstappen, who leads the world championship with 109 points with seven races remaining.

Verstappen thinks he can move across the field as he prepares to take a five-place penalty at Sunday's Italian Grand Prix

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Verstappen thinks he can move across the field as he prepares to take a five-place penalty at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix

Verstappen thinks he can move across the field as he prepares to take a five-place penalty at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix

“I think our car was good again, we chose to run a little less power than the other teams.

“Maybe one lap isn’t the right strategy, but I’ve always felt really comfortable in the long run, so hopefully tomorrow when it’s warmer and tire degradation starts to be good for us.”

Verstappen, who had to wait nearly four hours after qualifying ended to receive confirmation he would start seventh amid confusion over the application of grid penalties, will have to pass five cars – including Mercedes driver George Russell and both McLaren – to get to Leclerc.

Sky F1 member Karun Chandhok with Leclerc on SkyPad to analyze his lap at Monza

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Sky F1 member Karun Chandhok with Leclerc on SkyPad to analyze his lap at Monza

Sky F1 member Karun Chandhok with Leclerc on SkyPad to analyze his lap at Monza

“They (McLaren and Mercedes) were very far in qualifying so I don’t really expect them to be a huge threat but I hope it won’t be a DRS because then it becomes very difficult for me to pass them,” Verstappen added.

“Let’s see tomorrow, I hope of course nothing happens on the first lap and then if we have good speed in the race, anything is possible.”

Russell expects Verstappen to dominate

One of the main beneficiaries of the shootout was Russell, who jumped from sixth place in the playoffs to second on the net, but is not optimistic about his chances of competing for the win.

“I think we need to focus on ourselves to be honest,” said the Mercedes driver. “I think we saw last week and in Budapest if we focus on cars that are ultimately faster than us, we end up jeopardizing our overall score.”

Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reflect on their performance in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix

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Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reflect on their performance in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix

Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell reflect on their performance in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix

Unlike Leclerc and Verstappen, Russell insists Red Bull will be much faster than Ferrari, although it should be noted that his comments were made when the Dutchman was widely expected to start in fourth.

“I would like to think we can fight with Charles and fight with Max I think there is no chance, they are much faster than us,” Russell said.

“The podium should be minimal for us, so hopefully we can get a clean start and be in the fight.

“We don’t focus too much on him (Max) or what they’re doing because he’s going to end up in front of us at the end. He’s probably in the lead in 15 laps maybe.

“I don’t think it’s as easy to overtake here as it was at the spa but as fast as they are, they will pass quickly.”

Hamilton warned of the DRS

Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton qualified third, fourth and fifth respectively, but they are among nine drivers to go through on penalties in Sunday’s race.

While the assorted penalties created major confusion after qualifying, there was no doubt that Hamilton and Sainz, who had their penalties confined to the back of the grid, would start in 18th and 19th.

Perez starts in 13th after taking a 10 place penalty, which cannot be fully imposed because there are penalties for all cars behind him on the grid.

The Formula 1 circuit paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II ahead of the Italian Grand Prix

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The Formula 1 circuit paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II ahead of the Italian Grand Prix

The Formula 1 circuit paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth II ahead of the Italian Grand Prix

While Sainz will likely have the speed to get into the field, Mercedes’ lack of straight-line speed has Hamilton worried he could be a frustrating afternoon.

“It’s going to be tough tomorrow because the DRS doesn’t make a big difference,” Hamilton said.

“It’s very small and there can be a lot of people on the DRS train, so it could be a very frustrating day.

“However, I will try to be positive in getting into it.”

The sport continued to pay homage to Queen Elizabeth II, with many cars carrying a visual salute. All teams observed a minute’s silence in the court lane before first practice on Friday, and more are expected to be honored before Sunday’s race.

Temporary Italian GP starting grid:

1) Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
2) George Russell (Mercedes)
3) Lando Norris (McLaren)
4) Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
5) Pierre Gasly (Alpha Toure)
6) Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
7) Max Verstappen (Red Bull) *
8) Nick de Vries (Williams)
9) Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
10) Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
11) Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
12) Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
13) Sergio Perez (Red Bull) *
14) Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
15) Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) *
16) Kevin Magnussen (Haas) *
17) Mick Schumacher (Haas) *
18) Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) *
19) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) *
20) Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Toori) *

*Network penalty applies

Watch the Italian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 at 2pm on Sunday, with a boost from 1pm.