Carlos Sainz admits that while the absence of fans at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is unfortunate, it doesn't completely overshadow how special it is for him to take part in his first race in Italy as a Ferrari driver.
The Spaniard got his career with the Scuderia off on the right foot thanks to an eighth place finish in Bahrain. Now tasked with a new first - that of driving in Ferrari's home country - Sainz is looking forward to the special occasion.
"A first Grand Prix in Italy for a Ferrari driver is always special," Sainz told RacingNews365.com and other members of the media. "It's always emotional. Unfortunately, the situation with the pandemic does not allow us to have fans here this weekend, to have the famous Tifosi.
"So I will for sure miss them, it will miss that extra exciting factor that comes with being a Ferrari driver. You can already feel the atmosphere surrounding the circuit, you can already feel it's special.
"I felt it last year at Monza when I was still part of McLaren, how they had that extra connection with me because they knew I was coming to the team the following year. I can already feel it this year even though we don't have the opportunity to to see them in the grandstand but it should be an emotional one."
Before Bahrain, Sainz admitted he was keen to measure himself with teammate Charles Leclerc in qualifying. The Spaniard was happy with how he stacked up with the Monegasque driver, though he knows there is still room for improvement.
"Of course, you do learn after each weekend," Sainz added. "And you do your analyses with your engineers and you try and understand differences in driving styles, the way you use the steering wheel switches to adapt the car for each corner.
"I did get to learn quite a lot from Charles there and to investigate how he manages to do these very strong qualifying laps. I must say that I was also quite surprised and quite pleased to see how quick I was in Q1 and Q2. I still have a lot to learn, still a lot of races to go through, a lot of qualifying and still a lot of mistakes to do. I think to learn you need to do mistakes and learn from them."