The crowds of Italian Grand Prix attendees didn’t seem to care that Max Verstappen had just done something never done before in Formula 1 history.
After the Red Bull driver’s record-breaking 10th consecutive victory, the Dutch national anthem was playing, but the chants of “Carlos, Carlos, Carlos” from the crowd below drowned it out.
The person being chanted at was enjoying the scene alongside Verstappen on the podium. Carlos Sainz had just taken third place, his first of the year, and he had fought valiantly to get there. The tifosi’s adoration of him increased exponentially.
The tifosi remained on the scene for nearly an hour. Charles Leclerc, Sainz’s teammate on the Ferrari squad, scaled the trash netting and spent a long time chatting with spectators and signing autographs and taking photographs. “Charles, Charles, Charles” was now being chanted.
Ferrari were the talk of the town all weekend at Monza, much to the delight of the tifosi, despite Verstappen’s historic performance.
Sainz and Leclerc gave the dominant Red Bull squad their toughest battle of the season, and while Ferrari ultimately came up short, they turned in their greatest performance of a trying year. After Verstappen and teammate Sergio Perez were passed into first and second place, the Ferrari drivers went to war in the closing circuits for third place.
In the penultimate lap, Leclerc attempted a ‘dummy’ move on Sainz at the first corner, causing both drivers to lock up and go through the escape lane. At the end, “me attacking and him defending” were both “on the limit of the regulations,” as Leclerc put it. We got a little carried away towards the end, but everything worked out in the end.
Both Carlos and I were under tremendous pressure. Perez (Checo) was exerting tremendous pressure. Everyone was putting out maximum effort.
It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a race that much. The group was quite close-knit.
Ferrari may have called off prior years’ battles. This level of competition between drivers is unprecedented for the team.
However, since taking over at the beginning of the year, Frederic Vasseur has been working to usher in a new era of success in Maranello. The Frenchman racer just went with his gut.
“It is much easier to comment when you have a happy ending, but it was also the best way to thank everyone, the support of the tifosi, and so on,” Vasseur added.
I didn’t feel great about freezing that last bit of meat five laps from the finish. I have full faith in them, but I reassured them there was zero danger. However, I am pleased with the choice we made and the performance of the drivers on this day.
The “season’s best chance” for Ferrari.
While the atmosphere at Monza is always electric, there was a special buzz in the air this past weekend.
Down the road from the track, at the Hotel de Ville, hundreds of fans came to cheer on the two drivers who were staying there.
The Hollywood crew filming Brad Pitt’s new F1 movie were waiting for Sainz and Leclerc on Saturday morning, but they were delayed due to the crowd.
Later that afternoon, the historic autodromo went crazy when Sainz qualified first following a thrilling race in which the pole position changed hands three times in the final seconds.
Christian Horner, manager of the Red Bull racing team, stated that the yelling outside the Hotel de Ville subsided sometime about 1 a.m. that night.
At Monza, Ferrari saw a window of opportunity. This year, they’ve found the best success with their car on low-downforce-required tracks. Monza is the apex of this, so they built a brand-new rear wing and optimized the car for maximum speed on the straights.
They also installed all-new powertrains in both vehicles. Vasseur rejected rumors that they had turned them up higher than usual or as far as they dared. No matter what, it worked. From the get-go, both vehicles and Sainz were lightning fast.
They qualified first and third, respectively, in the hopes that they could race strategically and pass Verstappen. The head coach of an opposing team called it “Ferrari’s chance of the season.”
Sainz barely made it across in time to slow down the Red Bull, and Leclerc never caught up to Verstappen for second place at the start. However, with the advantage in hand, Sainz set out on a memorable drive.
After 15 laps of struggle, Verstappen finally overcame his opponent. The first chicane just required a tiny lock-up from Verstappen. By the time they reached the second chicane, he had a much better run and was in the lead.
However, Sainz’s fight had only just begun. Now Leclerc was hot on his heels. After Perez had overtaken the second Ferrari, Sainz engaged the Mexican in a fierce battle. When he finally gave up, Leclerc fought back, and theirs was one of the toughest battles. At critical moments, Sainz came up with the goods.
It was a day of experimentation, and I put forth my all effort.
The beginning of the final lap appeared to be the most dangerous part of the race. Leclerc had tried to bait Sainz into the first chicane, but Sainz had avoided it by swerving in one direction and then the other. Leclerc had no concerns afterward, even though he came dangerously close to breaking the rule against moving while braking.
This is how racing should be, and I had a great time doing it, as we were right on the edge of what was possible.
“At the end, we put on a show and scared the daylights out of everyone. However, when riding in the automobile, everything was OK. I was just feeling happy, and I certainly hope Carlos was, too.
After all, “I never felt too much of a risk,” Sainz remarked. The last thing you want to do in front of the tifosi is touch a teammate, so you’re constantly a little on edge and give each other a little extra room when you’re together. I had a lot of fun, and I think we all agreed that the fight was fierce and fair.
For this weekend at least, P3 in front of the tifosi is as good as it gets, as we expected Red Bull to be significantly faster than us.
It was a day of trying, and I did everything in my power to keep them at bay. As a result, I had to replace my tires earlier than I would have liked to and was left vulnerable to Max, Checo, and Charles in the latter stages of their respective stints, which may have lost me a podium finish. It was a close one, but we pulled through.
“It meant a lot to me,” she said.
According to Vasseur, even he couldn’t help but feel swept up in the atmosphere. To his utter shock.
This weekend has been “good overall,” as Vasseur put it. “On the sporting side of things, certainly the best since the season started. But I also believe it was a major one for me emotionally.
“I tried all week to play down the situation to the boys, saying, ‘We can’t earn more points in Monza than anywhere else, let’s take it a little bit easy.’
“But when I arrived on Wednesday evening (for an event in Milan) and we had hundreds of guys two or three days before the event, I thought: ‘OK, it won’t be easy to take it easy, huh?'”
The crowd went nuts yesterday when we finished the race with Carlos. It’s definitely not a typical one. It’s the only one of its kind. As the leader of the Ferrari squad, I can admit that I was a little bit fast.
“Max is living in the moment of his life.”
Not surprisingly, the normally cool and collected Verstappen did not seem very elated by his new record.
To which I said, “Of course it’s something you don’t expect to happen,” and he said, “Of course it is.” At the beginning of the season, I never would have imagined that this would happen. I’m not only pleased with how the race went, but also overwhelmed with pride.
I’m pleased with how hard everyone in the team worked. Always coming out on top. Indeed, we are taking pleasure in it. Winning 10 in a row is like having this kind of season: it doesn’t happen often.
The weight of the accomplishment fell on Horner’s shoulders.
According to Horner, “Max is driving at an unbelievable level and setting records.”
I can say without a doubt that nobody in the world is currently faster than Max Verstappen in this car.
You have to acknowledge and appreciate Max’s efforts. We shouldn’t take anything away from how remarkable it is that he has accomplished this.
Rarely does something like this occur in sports, so this is a truly special moment for him and the team.
It’s not every day that you get to be a part of history, but we’re making it right now. We spent 2010–2013 with Sebastian Vettel as our driver establishing a foundation for future success. We achieved some very dizzying heights.
Then we had seven difficult years, but we kept our eyes on the prize the whole time. It’s a great feeling for the whole team to be back in a position where we can consistently win. to have persevered despite adversity and seen your efforts rewarded.
And Horner admitted that despite Verstappen’s public lack of emotion, the record-setting weekend had brought out a new side of the normally laid-back driver.
“I wouldn’t say nervous,” Horner recalled, “but you could definitely say that his focus was razor sharp.” Extraordinary amounts. It was clear that to him, it had great significance.