Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing set a new record for straight victories in Formula One by taking the Italian Grand Prix after holding off a strong push from Ferrari.
The Ferrari of pole-winner Carlos Sainz kept the Dutchman at bay for 14 laps, but the Dutchman’s persistence paid off when the Spaniard made a mistake.
While entering the first chicane at Monza, Sainz locked his brakes, allowing Verstappen to pass the Ferrari.
After tenaciously protecting second place from teammate Charles Leclerc, Sainz had to fend off Sergio Perez, a teammate of Max Verstappen’s.
Sainz fought hard to defend the position for a long time, but he lost it with nine circuits to go. He immediately began a new battle to keep Leclerc off the podium.
In the end, Sainz begged his team to let him “bring it home” as he hung on with worn tires. It was emphasized to Leclerc that he “race until the end, no risk.”
Sainz made a last-ditch effort to stay in the race by using late braking maneuvers into the first chicane, but the race was over at the beginning of the last lap.
At the first chicane, Leclerc sold Sainz a dummy, but the Spaniard countered by defending, forcing Leclerc to lock his brakes and take an inside line around the chicane. Leclerc finished the race only 0.1 seconds behind the leader.
Despite receiving a five-second penalty for going off the track while passing Esteban Ocon shortly after leaving the pits, Mercedes’ George Russell ran a decent race and finished in fifth place.
By beginning on the hard tyre and switching to the medium, Lewis Hamilton was able to pass both McLarens and Alex Albon’s Williams and move up to sixth place.
While passing McLaren’s Oscar Piastri at the second chicane, Hamilton tangled with him and received a five-second penalty, but his lead was large enough that he still finished in second.
Albon held on ahead of Lando Norris of McLaren while Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who had his most silent race of the season, finished ninth in his Aston Martin ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo.
After the Hamilton collision, Piastri had to make a pit stop to fix his car and ended up finishing 12th, behind Liam Lawson’s Alpha Tauri.
With his tenth consecutive victory, Verstappen surpasses Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 season total of nine victories, which he also accomplished in a Red Bull.
When asked about it, Verstappen stated, “I never would have believed that was possible, but we had to work for it today, and that definitely made it a lot more fun.”
“We had good pace, I think we were good on the tyres, but [Ferrari] had a lot of top speed, it was so hard to get close and get a move on into Turn One, so I had to force him into a mistake.”
So far this season, Red Bull has won every single race.
Ferrari’s performance at their home race was their most competitive of the season, and it was not easy for them to lose to the dominant Red Bull squad.
Their plan was to try and out-strategize Verstappen by having third-place starter Leclerc overtake and pass Verstappen into the first corner.
Sainz had to make a quick cut over to deny Verstappen the inside line for an attack at the first corner after the Dutchman got off to a fast start.
Sainz had the lead, but the first stint was tough since he had to fend off Verstappen for as long as possible.
Never more than half a second behind the Ferrari, Verstappen kept pace with it. On lap six, he attempted to pass on the outside but was blocked. He then criticized the Ferrari’s straight-line speed to his team.
However, his persistence paid off in the end. At the beginning of lap 15, Sainz’s right front wheel stuck on the way into the first chicane, giving Verstappen a superior exit out of the curve.
Down the inside of the Roggia chicane, Verstappen passed on the straightaway and took the lead.
After Verstappen took the lead, the race was decided (if it ever was) and the only question was who would finish second through third.
The 145-point gap between Verstappen and Perez in the championship means that Verstappen is getting closer and closer to a third drivers’ crown.
It was a fierce battle between the Ferraris.
After Verstappen passed, Leclerc challenged Sainz, but the Spaniard held him off, and the two drivers pitted on laps 20 and 21, with Sainz going in first.
Perez, who had taken 18 circuits to overhaul Russell’s Mercedes for fourth in the first stint, was now putting pressure on both Sainz and Leclerc as they settled into their positions behind the Ferraris.
After Sainz, Leclerc, and Perez all pitted on lap 23, the trio ran in a single file behind the rest of the field.
On lap 32, Perez attempted to pass Leclerc via the first chicane; he was unsuccessful; on lap 33, he tried again at the second chicane; and on lap 34, he succeeded.
The Red Bull driver then went after Sainz, who fought back valiantly for several laps before Perez was able to pass him on lap 46 on the pit straight and into the first chicane.
That made Leclerc a threat to Sainz, and it set up a battle between the Ferrari drivers for the glory of a podium finish in front of their home fans.
As his tires wore out, Sainz’s driving became increasingly desperate, but he never swerved off the fair side of the road.
On the lap after Perez had gotten by, Leclerc passed his teammate into the first chicane by cutting the corner, and then Sainz dragged back by on the run to the second chicane.
Leclerc could not have gotten much closer. He made many attempts into the first turn, and while his double move and use of the brakes to advance were somewhat questionable as Sainz defended in the final lap, his determination to hold on was that of a titan.