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Italian Grand Prix Race Review: Max Verstappen breaks new ground with Monza glory

Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen become the first driver to win 10 consecutive races in an F1 season, although the Dutchman was made to work for the victory at Monza.

Home fans were urging Ferrari to do something special over the weekend, and they almost did, but Verstappen’s class shone through in the end to claim the record-breaking win.

A moment to remember for Verstappen

It was looking like at one stage Verstappen’s dream of breaking the consecutive win record was going to evaporate, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz leading the way from the off.

The Spaniard was looking strong out in front before locking his brakes 14 laps in to give Verstappen an opportunity to take the lead. It was one the Red Bull ace did not pass up.

Verstappen moved to the front and never really looked back, as the Ferrari duo of Sainz and Charles Leclerc, along with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, battled it out behind him.

Having taken the chequered flag at Monza to surpass Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine consecutive race wins in 2013, Verstappen was over the moon with his achievement.

"I never would have believed that was possible but we had to work for it today and that made it definitely a lot more fun," he said.

"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."

Ferrari deserve credit

Given Verstappen’s strength this season along with his Red Bull team, with Perez finishing second at Monza on Sunday, the rest of the grid has been battling to see who is best of the rest on most weekends.

There is no doubting that accolade belonged to Ferrari on Sunday, as Sainz finished in third place on the podium, with Leclerc having to settle for fourth.

The Ferrari pair enjoyed a good battle towards the end of the race, which was great for the neutral, but would have had those in the Scuderia team more than a little hot under the collar.

Both drivers made the finish line safely, with Sainz finishing 0.1secs ahead of Leclerc in a thrilling end to the contest in the race for third spot.

Further down the standings, George Russell won the ding-dong between the two Mercedes, as he finished in fifth place ahead of former world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Sour grapes from Wolff

After Verstappen’s latest success in breaking the record, there was at least one man who was not particularly impressed with the feat.

Mercedes and Red Bull have had a sometimes toxic rivalry over the years and there has certainly been no love lost between team principals Toto Wolff and Christian Horner.

Following Verstappen’s record-breaking 10th win on Sunday, Wolff was less than glowing with his appraisal of the achievement.

"For me, these kinds of records are completely irrelevant. They were irrelevant in our good days at Mercedes," Wolff said.

"I don't know how many races we won in a row. [I] didn't even know there was a count."

The streets of Singapore await

WhatSingapore Grand Prix
WhereMarina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore
When13:00, Sunday, 17th September
How to watchSky Sports F1
OddsMax Verstappen 1/4, Sergio Perez 10/1, Lando Norris 16/1, Lewis Hamilton 16/1

With a weekend off, the F1 campaign resumes on Friday 15th September with the first practice session ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.

The iconic street circuit is bound to offer up more thrills and spills, with Ferrari hoping to build on their positive performance at Monza.

However, there will be no doubting who the man to beat is and Verstappen will be going in search of win No.11 and an opportunity to make his winning-streak record one that can last for years to come.

Verstappen is available at 1/4 to claim the victory in Singapore on his stroll towards the Drivers’ Championship, while Red Bull team-mate Perez is 10/1 to claim the chequered flag. 

Lando Norris is 16/1 to claim the win at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, with Hamilton available at 16/1 to claim his first win of the season.

Italian Grand Prix Race Preview: Sainz on pole but Verstappen eyes yet another win

Carlos Sainz sent the massed Tifosi home deliriously happy after taking pole position for the Italian GP for Ferrari, but runaway championship leader Max Verstappen is 1/5 to register a record 10th consecutive race victory.

Read the Italian GP qualifying preview here

The Monza pole position is Sainz's second front-row start of the season, and he will be hoping his Ferrari can show better race pace than in Spain. 

At his home event in Barcelona, Sainz challenged Verstappen going into the first corner, but slipped down the field as the race wore on, coming home a disappointed fifth. 

The high-speed Italian circuit is less taxing on tyres than most tracks, and that could help Sainz, who has one fourth-place finish and five fifth places to his name this season but no podiums. 

Despite sitting three points ahead of his team-mate Charles Leclerc in the standings, Sainz is generally considered the lesser of Ferrari's two drivers, but he has held a clear advantage all weekend.

WhatItalian Grand Prix
WhereMonza circuit, near Milan, Italy
When14:00 Sunday, 3rd September 2023
How to watchSky Sports F1
OddsMax Verstappen 1/5, Carlos Sainz 6/1, Charles Leclerc 10/1, Sergio Perez 20/1, George Russell 40/1

Verstappen playing it cool

There was no hint of anger from the sometimes fiery Verstappen despite missing out on pole position by just 0.013 seconds. 

Over the last two seasons the Red Bull ace has shown he can win from pretty much any grid position, and this weekend is all about taking sole ownership of the win streak record. 

Last year at Monza, Verstappen was again pipped to pole, this time by Leclerc, and also had to take an engine penalty so started seventh. 

Despite its long straights, Monza isn't the easiest circuit to overtake on, but the Dutchman was up to fourth by the end of the first lap and took second place from George Russell soon after starting lap five. 

Having taken the lead through pitstop strategy, Verstappen was on his way to a comfortable victory when a late safety car effectively ended the race. 

During his nine-race win streak, Verstappen has taken victories from ninth and sixth on the grid, so a front row should be no barrier at all.

Leclerc looking to bounce back

Leclerc failed to take a second consecutive Monza pole position, but he will be relieved to have secured third on the grid following a messy weekend in the Netherlands last time out. 

At Zandvoort, the Ferrari driver crashed in qualifying and damaged his floor during the race, eventually opting to retire his car. 

Monza brings out the best in the Monegasque, though, who won at the track in 2019 and finished second last year. 

High-speed circuits are a strength for this year's Ferrari as evidenced by Leclerc's top-three finishes in Azerbaijan, Austria and a month ago in Belgium. 

Joining the champagne celebration on Monza's iconic podium will be the aim for Leclerc today, and he is 4/5 to achieve that. It is 13/8 that both Ferrari drivers appear on the rostrum.

Albon shines again

Alex Albon was given the boot from Red Bull's line-up after a season-and-a-half but following some spectacular drives for Williams, the Thai-British driver is again being tipped for a seat at one of the top teams. 

After a year as Red Bull's reserve driver in 2021, when he also competed in the German Touring Car championship, Albon returned to the F1 grid with the Grove-based team, who were struggling at the back at the time. 

But he has spearheaded Williams' resurgence, scoring all 15 of their points this season, and he was unlucky to finish eighth at Zandvoort last week. 

After qualifying a brilliant fourth, Albon was the only driver to stick with his original set of tyres as heavy rain fell and then dried during the first half of the race. 

That saw him running a strong sixth towards the end of the race before the heavens opened again, and he was shuffled back to eighth. 

Albon again stunned in qualifying at Monza, and lines up sixth. The Williams is slick in a straight line, and it is hard to argue with the 8/11 that he achieves a first top-six finish since 2020.

Italian Grand Prix Qualifying Preview: Frustrating Ferrari may finally delight Tifosi

Max Verstappen is the overwhelming favourite to record an unprecedented 10th successive grand prix victory at Monza this weekend as F1 returns to the Temple of Speed.

The Red Bull driver equalled Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine straight wins with success in his home grand prix in the Netherlands last weekend.

The two-time world champion has been operating in a class of his own for much of the season and has rarely been challenged come race day. 

Qualifying has been slightly more competitive though with four drivers claiming pole position this year and Saturday’s action is where Verstappen’s biggest challenge may lie at Monza.

Monza should suit home heroes

Having had the majority of those in attendance cheering him on in last weekend’s chaotic Dutch Grand Prix, Verstappen will encounter a far different atmosphere in Italy. 

Throngs of Ferrari fans will fill the grandstands at Monza, hoping to witness Ferrari’s first win since last year’s Austrian Grand Prix. 

An outright victory is likely to be beyond the Scuderia’s capabilities with the home favourites struggling to get the car to perform consistently and continuing tactical errors, but Monza’s high speed, low downforce set-up makes them a threat in qualifying. 

Verstappen has been the fastest qualifier in seven of the last eight races and he’s looking to claim his second career pole for the Italian Grand Prix. 

But the margins of Verstappen’s success have been tight at times and Ferrari have set their temperamental car up with a view to maximising their straight line speed on Monza’s long straights. 

Charles Leclerc, who this week spoke of his desire to stay and win with Ferrari ahead of his contract expiring later this year, believes the Scuderia is well suited to this test having performed well in similar conditions in Belgium.

Leclerc’s only other pole of the year came in Azerbaijan, another track with plenty of straights, and he has twice started from first on the grid at the Italian Grand Prix.

No team has got their car through to Q3 more often this season than Ferrari (23) and while Sainz isn’t a qualifying specialist, he’s got more out of this year’s car at times than Leclerc and can’t be discounted. 

McLaren hope to spring a surprise

Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are also not easily discounted, despite a couple of frustrating weekends in Belgium and the Netherlands. 

McLaren have worked hard on a new rear-wing for this race after being exposed on Spa’s long straights and are hopeful of being more competitive at Monza. 

Practice will offer more of an insight into whether the new low-drag wing is effective but they’ve been quick at other fast-paced circuits this year with Norris narrowly missing out on pole for the British Grand Prix.

Mercedes eye Monza celebrations

It’s been a good week already for Mercedes with both Lewis Hamilton and George Russell extending their contracts with the team. 

The British duo are sticking with the Silver Arrows despite an underwhelming last 18 months, but Mercedes’ record at Monza suggests they may go well here with Hamilton having five Italian Grand Prix wins to his name. 

Russell finished on the podium in last year’s race having qualified in second and he’ll be desperate to bounce back after a disastrous race at Zandvoort.

ATA rules may lead to grid shake-up

This Saturday’s qualifying session will see the second trial of the Alternative Tyre Allocation, first seen in Hungary. 

These rules limit how many tyres a team can use in the weekend and govern which tyres are used in which section of qualifying with teams running on the hard compound in Q1, mediums in Q2 and softs in Q3. 

This led to an unusual top-10 grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix with both Alfa Romero’s and Niko Hulkenberg’s Haas making it through to Q3. 

Haas could be the joker in the pack again this weekend given their straight line speed and qualifying record, while Alexander Albon in the Williams is another to look out for to go deep in qualifying.

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