The famous Monza Circuit, the site of a weekend in which Ferrari was celebrating numerous anniversaries, ended up being just a stop in Max Verstappen’s 2022 Formula 1 repeat-championship campaign.
Verstappen’s fifth straight win on Sunday (Sept. 11) was his 11th of the season, guaranteeing the Dutch driver a 50% win percentage on the year. Verstappen is now tied for seventh in all-time victories with Nigel Mansell after the 31st in the 24-year-old’s career.
There’s an argument Ferrari’s pit strategy at Monza ruined an opportunity to best Verstappen once again. But even if the Ferrari bosses had called the perfect race, the pace and lack of tire wear from Verstappen made it virtually impossible for Red Bull to be beaten by anybody except for themselves.
The race itself ended under the safety car. Daniel Ricciardo blew an engine in between turns 6 and 7 on lap 48 of the 53-lap event. The differences were large enough between the leaders that most were able to pit for soft tires without losing positions. In the end, it didn’t matter as the track was not cleared in time to restart the race.
The tifosi, already not happy at Ferrari for not winning on a weekend in which the Scuderia were celebrating numerous anniversaries with a special yellow livery, audibly booed the decision in the grandstands after the cars started the final lap under the safety car.
Late safety car or not, it was clear throughout Verstappen was the fastest driver in this race.
“On every compound, we were quickest, the [tire degradation] was pretty good,” Verstappen said matter-of-factly in the post-race podium interview with F1 Media.
Still, Ferrari ached for one more opportunity to challenge.
“The end was frustrating,” Leclerc said following Verstappen’s interview. “I wish we could have ended up racing… It’s a shame, I wish we could have won in front of the amazing tifosi here.”
Sergio Perez ended the race in sixth and Lando Norris slotted in seventh. Pierre Gasly finished in the points for Italian-based AlphaTauri in eighth while Nyck de Vries ran a very strong ninth subbing for Alex Albon at Williams, even winning Driver of the Day. Zhou Guanyu got the last points-paying position of the Grand Prix by finishing 10th.
In the opening laps, Verstappen and Sainz had strong drives after serving their grid penalties. Verstappen started seventh and moved up to second after five laps while Sainz surged to sixth after 10 laps despite starting 18th.
On lap 12, Sebastian Vettel had an ERS failure and slowed to a stop a little after turn 7. The four-time champion, whose first win came at Monza in 2008, ended his final Grand Prix at the legendary track on a crane after completing just 10 circuits. The Virtual Safety Car came out in order to get the Aston Martin off the racetrack.
None of it stopped Verstappen’s drive to the front, cruising to his fifth consecutive win this season.
Verstappen’s lead has now grown to 116 over Leclerc. Verstappen will need to gain 14 points on Leclerc to clinch the season championship in Singapore.
The Constructors’ standings have a similar gap, as Red Bull holds a 139-point lead over Ferrari. McLaren benefited from Fernando Alonso’s mechanical DNF and Esteban Ocon’s finish out of the points to gain some on Alpine, but those gains were minimized after Ricciardo’s late engine failure. They ended the day 18 points behind the French outfit for fourth in the standings. Further back, Haas now leads AlphaTauri by just a point for seventh.
After three straight race weekends following the summer break, the F1 paddock will have a much-needed two weeks off before the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, Oct. 2.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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