Birthday Gift - Q&A with Carlos Sainz

Carlos Sainz fell narrowly short of the points in Spa after starting from the back of the grid. Now the Spaniard is targeting a return to the top ten on his birthday weekend in Italy.

What do you like about the Italian Grand Prix?
The Italian Grand Prix weekend is always an enjoyable one. My birthday falls over that weekend – this year it’s the Saturday - so I’ll be targeting a good birthday present in qualifying! I might excuse myself and have a pizza at some point over the weekend, but we’re here to race and the nice Italian food will have to be put on hold. The Italian fans are excellent, I even have an Italian fan club, so it’s great to have that support! We always stop to sign autographs on the way in to the circuit, so that’s a good way to begin the day.

Do you enjoy driving at the Temple of Speed?
Monza is a cool circuit to drive, it’s certainly up there in the top five. High-speed circuits like Monza give you a thrill, and this place is known as the Temple of Speed. I’m without points there in my Formula 1 career, but I’ve had some success at Monza early in my single-seater career. 2014 was a particularly good year, I remember recording two pole positions and taking a win in the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship.

What is there to consider in terms of car set-up?
Monza brings a low downforce balance to focus on finding a high-top speed. It takes a bit of getting used to as the car doesn’t feel as grippy as it usually does in the corners. A lot of Friday will be spent learning about this and finding different set-up balances.

How do you reflect on Spa?
We knew Spa was going to be a tricky weekend, but we have some positives to build on ahead of Monza. The car felt good on Friday, but, for reasons we are still working on, we were unable to convert that pace in qualifying. We did our best on Sunday, finished the race and gathered good data to do our analysis this week and aim for improvements.