Charles Leclerc needs a strong result at the Italian Grand Prix to make up for a wayward Dutch Grand Prix weekend, the Ferrari driver is under pressure which Emerson Fittipaldi believes is making him less consistent relative to teammate Carlos Sainz.
Zandvoort last weekend is one to forget for Leclerc, his fourth non-points-scoring weekend of a disappointing season. A crash during tricky conditions was another addition to his growing list of mistakes, all of which not helped by a Ferrari team in disarray in the wake of Mattia Binotto’s departure while restructuring for a future led by Fred Vasseur.
Undeniably fast in qualifying, Leclerc tends to let himself down in races where Sainz, whose qualy-pace is slower than his teammate, but the Spaniard manages to raise his game and deliver on Sundays while Leclerc tends to be less effective in race mode of late.
Last Sunday at Zandvoort is a good case in point, Sainz finished fifth while Leclerc had a DNF to end a well-below-par weekend for him. One in which Carlos claimed fifth place in the race and pupped up to fifth in the 2023 F1 drivers’ standings after 13 rounds. Leclerc, three points adrift, is down to sixth. The tables have been turned.
Looking at the Ferrari situation, double F1 World Champion Fittipaldi summed up what he sees in his preview of the Italian GP this weekend “I can see that Leclerc is under greater pressure than Sainz. And that pressure is coming from within. He wants to perform and deliver and they’re not achieving. Monza could be a good chance to get things back on track for Ferrari and Leclerc.”
“Carlos Sainz seems to be more consistent when it comes to finishing the race, than Leclerc. That will create more pressure on Charles this weekend for sure. Knowing that his teammate is there, delivering results, that’s the name of the game.
“When you have a teammate having the same kind of equipment. This starts creating pressure and if you’re not mentally strong, it will make things difficult.”
Fittipaldi: Leclerc needs to be more focused and not be so worried
As for Leclerc’s often impressive qualifying pace, Fittipaldi observed: “Juan Manuel Fangio had a good saying: First you must finish the race and then you can win. Every team needs drivers to finish races.
“When the driver puts too much pressure on himself, and this is from an outside perspective, he’s putting too much pressure on himself
“When a driver starts doing that, that’s the worst he can do to himself. We know he has the talent. He has to be more relaxed, in my opinion, and if he gets things easier, he’ll perform better and make fewer mistakes.
“Any athlete that puts too much pressure on themselves, you come out of a productive window. If you are overdoing it, it’s’ not good and if you’re underdoing, you’re not performing.
“Each athlete has a window of performance and to me, he’s going over it and creating mistakes that don’t do justice to his phenomenal talent. Leclerc needs to put himself in that window. I know it’s easier said than done,” ventured Fittipaldi, winner of the 1972 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Famous Ferrari wins on home soil include Leclerc’s victory in 2019, Fernando Alonso winning in 2010, his first year with the Reds, and Michael Schumacher’s win in 2006, the German’s last year with the team.
Monza is the most important race of the year for Ferrari
Piero Lardi Ferrari once said that for Ferrari, winning the Italian Grand Prix was as important as winning the F1 world title. With that in mind, Ferrari have a last chance to redeem themselves in front of their faithful.
A Sainz or Leclerc victory on Sunday, coupled to the Scuderia’s fine triumph at Le Mans with their sportscar project, will make this season of F1 under-performance more tolerable for long-suffering Tifosi.
But the pressure of expectation is also at its highest and the current Scuderia is not very good under pressure, of which there will be plenty this weekend at Monza.
“Historically, when Ferrari go to Monza they’re under tremendous pressure,” explained Fittipaldi. “The drivers, the team members, every pit stop, the whole country is watching. Frederic Vasseur will be under pressure.”
“It will be interesting to see the Tifosi and their expectations at Monza. Ferrari has always run fast at Monza. In my time, even before that, they always ran strong at Monza and they will be strong in qualifying,” predicted Fittipaldi.
Ferrari have won their home race on 19 occasions. Leclerc etched his name in Tifosi hearts forever with his grand win at the Temple of Speed in 2019. The Scuderia’s eternal hero Michael Schumacher won the race five times. (Quotes provided by MyBettingSites.co.uk)