Italian GP: Verstappen Romps To Victory In Monza
Max Verstappen secured victory at the Italian GP, with another impressive race that puts him on the edge of glory, reports Rhonan Colquhoun.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen edges closer to a second consecutive title after winning the Italian GP.
The 53 lap race came to a premature end after the retirement of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo meant that the race finished behind the Safety Cart to the disappointment of fans.
Verstappen, who qualified second but dropped to seventh after a pre-race grid penalty, eased back into the victory contention after a few laps of racing. The Dutchman ran longer on his Soft tyres than Polesitter Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and executed a one-stop strategy rather than a two-stop run by the Monegasque.
Leclerc pitted under an early Virtual Safety Car – caused by the retirement of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel – from the lead onto the Medium tyre. The Ferrari driver simply didn’t have the pace to catch the Red Bull driver on his differing strategy.
Verstappen recorded his fifth consecutive victory but it was the first time in the Dutchman’s career that he had stood on the legendary Monza podium. With a lead of 116 points, Verstappen can mathematically be crowned Champion next time out in Singapore.
Leclerc, who was doubtful before the weekend of finishing on the podium, gave the Tifosi something to cheer about as the Scuderia celebrated their 75th Anniversary as a company.
Mercedes’ George Russell completed the podium places and closes in on Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in the battle for third in the Championship.
Charging their way from the rear of the field, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who started 18th and 19th after pre-race penalties, finished in fourth and fifth.
Perez claimed sixth but could have finished ahead of Hamilton if not for a late pit-stop for his fading Hard tyres but the Mexican did claim an extra point for the Fastest Lap. McLaren’s Lando Norris, who started third, came home in seventh and claimed much needed points in the team’s battle with Alpine for fourth.
2020 Italian GP winner Pierre Gasly came home in eighth and claimed four points for AlphaTauri at their home race.
The Fans Driver of the Day went to rookie Nyck de Vries. The Dutchman stepped into Alexander Albon’s Williams after the Thai-Brit was diagnosed with appendicitis early on Saturday morning. Running a comfortable eighth during the first stint, the 2019/20 Formula E Champion came under huge pressure from Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu as his Medium tyres started to fade.
The Williams driver managed to extend the gap to the Alfa Romeo driver to over a second before the deployment of the Safety Car, so on his debut, de Vries managed to claim ninth ahead of Zhou in tenth.
Alpine’s Esteban Ocon claimed eleventh and meant that the French team failed to score points since the Emilia Romagna GP earlier this season.
Haas’s Mick Schumacher finished ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valterri Bottas in twelfth and thirteen while AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Williams’s Nicholas Latifi and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen rounded out the drivers who finished the race.
Three former Italian GP winners failed to see the chequered flag which included McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso who’s ten race scoring streak came to an end with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel all retired from the race.
Lance Stroll also retired from the race which meant that neither Aston Martin driver saw the chequered flag.
Fans now have to wait until the 2nd of October for the Round 17 at Singapore GP which returns after two years of being absent from the calendar.