As he attempts to gatecrash the championship contenders’ title fight at the Italian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has appealed for the ‘tifosi’ to create a chaotic Dutch-style atmosphere.
The Monegasque, who won Ferrari’s home race in Italy’s “temple of speed” in 2019, wants Monza supporters to reproduce the carnival atmosphere seen at Zandvoort last weekend, where 70 000 Dutch fans screamed Max Verstappen to victory.
“For the drivers and the team, Monza is always unique,” Leclerc added.
“It’s our home, and we can sense the love.” 2019 will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life.”
Following last year’s behind-closed-doors race, which was won by Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly, Monza is expecting roughly half-capacity audiences of 50 000 this weekend, with another fierce battle between Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the works.
“It will be nice to feel the support,” Leclerc remarked. “And I’m hoping for the same crazy that we saw with Max, but this time for us!”
While Leclerc expects to see a surging Ferrari win once more, it is more likely that Hamilton, who is attempting to become the first driver to win 100 Grands Prix, will rebound as he pursues an outright record sixth Monza victory and his first since 2018.
He is tied with Michael Schumacher for the most wins with five. He finished seventh last year after being penalized for entering the pit lane when it was closed.
“I expect Monza to suit Mercedes because it hasn’t been our greatest track in a few years,” said Verstappen, who leads the championship by three points after victories in Belgium and the Netherlands.
“However, if we keep doing what we’ve been doing, working as a team and nailing every detail, we can compete.” However, I believe Mercedes has a top-speed advantage.”
‘BIG LEAP’ is a phrase that means “big leap.”
Verstappen has never won at Monza, and Red Bull hasn’t won since 2013, but he’ll be looking to expand his lead by completing a hat-trick of Sunday victories since the summer break.
Hamilton, who struggled to match Red Bull’s pace last weekend, said, “We’re trying as hard as we can.” “We appeared to be on par with them, or slightly ahead of them, in a couple of races, but I believe they made a significant stride forward.
“All we have to do now is keep our heads down, work hard, and keep pushing.”
The sport’s second ‘Saturday Sprint,’ as pioneered at Silverstone, will be part of the ‘new’ weekend program. A Friday qualifying session will set the grid for a short race on Saturday, which will determine the field for Sunday and award bonus points.
At Silverstone, Verstappen took the win and three points, while Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said the team “learned some valuable lessons.”
Following the announcement this week that George Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas alongside Hamilton next year, Wolff will be hoping his team regains some of the poise and power that propelled them to five consecutive Monza victories in 2014, but he is aware that Ferrari could pose a threat as well.
Alfa Romeo has confirmed that Robert Kubica will continue to fill in for Covid-19 victim Kimi Raikkonen, who has been unable to test negative after getting the virus over the weekend.