Max Verstappen moves closer to a second world title with victory at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Max Verstappen has moved closer to a second world title with victory at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Despite qualifying as second fastest on Saturday, a five-place grid penalty left the Dutchman in seventh spot on the grid, handing an advantage to pole sitter Charles Leclerc.
However, the defending world champion moved himself into the top two within the first five laps at Monza, and it ultimately became a battle between Red Bull and home favourite Ferrari.
Having held his lead out in front, Leclerc made the decision to pit early, switching to the medium tyres, whereas Verstappen opted to stay out longer on the softs.
As the race progressed, it became apparent that Verstappen had made the correct decision, with Leclerc’s planned longer stint not playing into his favour.
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Although Verstappen was well on his way to victory, the race ended on a disappointing note with Daniel Riccardo‘s withdrawal resulting in a safety-car finish.
Unlike in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2021, race officials avoided the temptation of one more racing lap, even though the track appeared to be clear, and the supporters made their frustration known.
Nevertheless, Verstappen will be satisfied, recording his fifth successive win and opening up a 117-point lead over Leclerc.
George Russell collected another podium in the Mercedes – his seventh of the season – but he is now 16 points behind Leclerc in the Drivers’ Standings.
Carlos Sainz Jr and Lewis Hamilton – who had started in 19th place – finished in fourth and fifth position respectively.
Williams’ Nyck de Vries earned an excellent ninth spot on debut after being drafted in as a replacement for Alexander Albon, who was ruled out through