Max Verstappen’s unrelenting march to a third world title continued at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday as he overcame Carlos Sainz to win a record-breaking 10th successive Grand Prix. The 10 in a row breaks the previous all-time Formula 1 mark set by Sebastian Vettel over the final nine races of the 2013 season.
Here's some of what you may have missed from Sunday's action:
In 73 years of Formula 1, and with over 1,000 Grands Prix having taken place, no one had ever racked up a double-digit number of successive victories.
Max Verstappen inscribed his name into another chapter of Formula 1’s rapidly-evolving record books by making it 10 in a row. Miami, Monaco, Spain, Canada, Britain, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy have now been conquered in an unbroken streak by Verstappen while the win was Red Bull’s 15th in a row as a team.
Verstappen had to bide his time during the early stages of Sunday’s race as pole sitter Sainz of Ferrari maintained track position at the start before resisting Verstappen’s initial attacks with some fine defending into the first chicane. But a lock-up into the right-left complex under pressure from Verstappen after 15 of 51 laps gave the World Champion the optimal line through the exit, and he captured the lead into the next braking point.
That was game, set and match, and Verstappen reeled off the remaining 36 laps untroubled and unfazed up front.
“It’s something you don’t expect to happen, I never thought at the beginning of the season something like this was possible,” said Verstappen.
Sergio Perez made it a perfect day for Red Bull by rising from fifth on the grid to complete a one-two finish, a first for the team at the historic Monza circuit.
Verstappen now leads Perez in the Drivers’ Championship by 145 points. Red Bull Racing can mathematically seal the Constructors’ at the next race In Singapore, though they need to grab maximum points with Mercedes scoring two or less – an unlikely outcome. But the only way Red Bull will not win every race this season is if they screw up themselves, because no-one will beat them on pure pace alone.
“To have won 14 races out of 14 so far, to be leaving the European season undefeated is something we could have never imagined,” said boss Christian Horner. “And to win a grand prix is hard enough, to win 14 in a row, 24 out of the last 25, that means every single member of the team is doing their part.”
Ferrari Salvages Home Podium for Tifosi
Zandvoort and Monza are both old-school venues but the shift in atmosphere, setting and organization between the events are quite the contrast.
From the windswept North Sea to the sun-kissed royal park the orange of Verstappen-mania is replaced by the scarlet red of the frenzied Tifosi. Fans clamor for views from the creaking grandstands and the depleted forest—following a violent storm last month that robbed Monza of 10,000 trees—and every passing of the red cars is greeted with acclaim.
It was a dream Saturday for the fans, with Sainz grabbing pole position, but in the race its inferior pace and tire degradation meant a stern defense was ultimately futile as the Red Bull drivers made their way through.
The Ferrari drivers squabbled for position in the closing stages, and came perilously close to colliding, but Sainz repeled Leclerc’s advances and held on by two-tenths of a second. Sainz’s arrival was lauded on the podium, with the Tifosi chanting his name through the anthems, a reminder of the passion the country has for its team in spite of 2023’s faltering results.
“Obviously very happy, I think P3 in Monza is as good as it can get at this point,” said Sainz. “Red Bull were quite a bit quicker than us. I tried everything I could to keep (Verstappen) behind, and that meant I was then using my tires more than I would have liked, which was making me vulnerable at the end of the stints. We made it, but it was a very tough one.”
American Sargeant Just Misses the Points
Williams had long pinpointed Monza as a strong opportunity to score points due to low-downforce high-speed circuits masking some of the FW45’s weaknesses. Alex Albon duly delivered on expectations as he qualified in sixth position and raced to seventh place, losing a spot only to the recovering Lewis Hamilton, but it was a different matter for teammate Logan Sargeant.
Formula 1 ran its Alternative Tire Allocation rules at Monza, mandating the hard tire for Q1, medium tire for Q2, and soft tire for Q3, but Sargeant struggled to switch on the medium tire in that session. That left him in 15th place on the grid and in a processional race at Monza he was unable to make serious in-roads on the drivers further ahead. Sargeant briefly held a spot inside the top 10 but came home in 13th position and remains the only full-time driver yet to score points in 2023.
“It was a tricky race in general,” said Sargeant. “We tried to make the one stop work after boxing early for the hard tires, and I think it was just a bit too long on that stint considering the balance I had in the race, but unfortunately there was nothing we could do to get the car in the right window today. I struggled to keep hold of the hard tires and suffered quite a bit of oversteer.”
Dreadful Haas at a Low Ebb
Haas has struggled for performance for much of the season but Italy was its lowest ebb.
The VF-23 had little in the way of pace and what gains Nico Hulkenberg made at the start were soon squandered when its usual race weaknesses in terms of tire life came to the fore. Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen were forced into the slower two-stop strategy and came home as the final two classified finishers, in 17th, and 18th respectively, and the only cars to be lapped.
“We had no performance, no balance and not good tire management or life, so it was pretty hard work out there,” said a sanguine Hulkenberg. “Frankly, we were far from points-worthy this weekend.”
Magnussen described it as “probably the worst race, as we just had no pace at all, the tires were falling apart, and there was no balance. We have a steep hill to climb. There was just no pace – we need to turn this ship around.”
Albon’s result means Williams is now 10 points clear of Haas in the scrap for seventh in the constructors’ championship but given its total inability to contend for points Haas’ concern is now rewards. Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top 10 to halve Haas’ advantage over Alfa Romeo in the battle for eighth, putting Alfa Romeo just a point behind Haas
F1 Italian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 51 laps
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, +6.802 seconds
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari, +11.082
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +11.508
George Russell, Mercedes, +18.294
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +38.903
Alex Albon, Williams, +45.080
Lando Norris, McLaren, +45.212
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, +46.370
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, +1:04.764
Logan Sargeant, Williams, +1:10.573
Oscar Piastri, McLaren, +1:11.480
Liam Lawson, AlphaTauri, +1:11.772
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin, +1:21.387
Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo, +1:23.016
Pierre Gasly, Alpine, 1:23.017
Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, +1 lap
Kevin Magnussen, Haas, +1 lap
Estenan Ocon, Alpine, DNF
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, DNS
Drivers' Championship Standings
Max Verstappen 364
Sergio Perez 219
Fernando Alonso 170
Lewis Hamilton, 164
Carlos Sainz 117
Charles Leclerc 111
George Russell 109
Lando Norris 79
Lance Stroll 47
Pierre Gasly 37
Esteban Ocon 36
Oscar Piastri 36
Alexander Albon 21
Nico Hulkenberg 9
Valtteri Bottas 6
Zhou Guanyu 4
Yuki Tsunoda 3
Kevin Magnussen 2
Logan Sargeant 0
Liam Lawson 0
Nyck de Vries 0
Daniel Ricciardo 0
Constructors' Championship Standings
Red Bull 583
Aston Martin 217
Alfa Romeo 10