VERSTAPPEN SPOILS FERRARI’S PARTY WINNING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MONZA
The Italian Grand Prix that takes place in Monza is the oldest race on Formula 1’s calendar and one of the most iconic. The Autodromo di Monza has been dubbed the Temple of Speed over the years due to its high average speed across the circuit. You can expect to see drivers hit speeds over three hundred and sixty kilometers an hour pushing their cars to the limit.
Ferrari was under heavy pressure entering the race needing a victory to help rebuild confidence in the garage and head office. Red Bull on the other hand came into the race with truly little pressure and simply had the desire to win and further extend their monstrous lead in the championship standings.
Verstappen has won the last four races and wanted to add a Monza podium to his ever-growing trophy collection. The storyline for entering the Italian Grand Prix was set but the story was far from finished and only the Temple of Speed would decide how the story would end.
Monza eagerly awaited qualifying with beautiful clear skies and the sun shining bright on Formula 1. The story of the day centered around the actions taking place in the garage rather than the action on the track because for nine drivers their grid position would not be determined necessarily by their best lap times.
Nine drivers had changes to power units or gearboxes which meant grid penalties were to be enforced. The drivers who would be punished were Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen, Mick Schumacher, Carlos Sainz Jr, Lewis Hamilton, and Yuki Tsunoda. It is quite the list covers nearly half the field creating an interesting look to the start of the race on Sunday.
Nonetheless, every driver and their teams did their best to try and minimize the damage of their incoming penalties offering up an entertaining qualifying session. Charles Leclerc who was clear of any penalties claimed the eighth pole position with a robust performance edging out the soon-to-be champion Verstappen in P2. Verstappen’s penalty meant he had to start in P7 on Sunday which is decent considering the power of his car and how easily he can catch the front of the pack which he displayed last week at the Dutch GP.
Sainz who qualified in P3 would suffer a fifteen position drop due to bis changes landing him in eighteenth place on the grid. The front of the grid after all the penalties saw Mercedes and George Russel move up to P2 followed by the McLarens of Lando Norris in P3 and Daniel Ricciardo in P4.
A surprise story of the day was reserve driver Nick De Vries getting the call from Williams to replace Alexander Albon who was suffering from appendicitis. De Vries performed extraordinarily well for such a young driver and earned himself a spot in the top ten of the grid qualifying in P8. Ferrari had pole position, but would that be enough to stop Verstappen on race day?
The sun continued to blare on sunny and the Azzurri skies were devoid of any clouds with temperatures hitting the thirty-degree mark the Italian Grand Prix in Monza was primed for action. Tire selection like in everywhere race plays a crucial factor and with the hot temperatures, tire degradation was something to look for. The formation lap started, and the hundred thousand roaring Ferrari Tifosi cheered on Leclerc as he took his pole position on the grid awaiting the red lights to go off.
The race began without any crashes and Leclerc held off a surging Russell blocking his attempts to overtake Leclerc. Verstappen managed to jump from P7 to P4 in less than the first lap and it was clear that his Red Bull was a force to be reckoned with. On Lap 12 Sebastien Vettel and his Aston Martin were forced to retire from the race leaving his race car stranded by the side of the road and triggering a virtual safety car.
Ferrari and Leclerc pitted immediately switching to medium tires and hoping to gain some time on the track to catch to Verstappen who was going to take the lead at any point. Sainz was having an incredible race climbing up from P18 to being at the top in twenty laps of work. Sainz’s Primary target became Russel who held third place with a small margin of time ahead of the Spaniard behind him.
The newcomer on the track De Vries held his own and his ground staying in the top ten nearly the whole race battling more experienced drivers to keep him in the points. On Lap 47 Ricciardo and his McLaren had their engine fail and forced the Aussie to the side of the road with six laps remaining in the race.
Ferrari it seemed might have had their miracle wish granted because Leclerc did not have any real chance to catch Verstappen. A safety car was deployed because of the McLaren’s position on the track and to add more issues the marshals could not clear the car without a small crane which came onto the scene late. Fans and commentators were dismayed that a red flag was not shown which would have forced the race to stop and have a standing start making the end of the race a thrilling event. Formula 1 on the other hand decided against this and the race ended behind a safety car.
Verstappen who dominated the race won his fifth straight race of the season, his eleventh of the season, his thirtieth career win, and his first podium and victory in Monza. Verstappen’s win creates a one hundred- and sixteen-point gap over Leclerc making Verstappen nearly impossible to catch. Verstappen can mathematically clinch the championship in the next race at the Singapore Grand at the start of October.
Leclerc did everything he good and Ferrari’s strategy could not be blamed for their second-place finish, Red Bull was just too strong. Mercedes was proud to have Russel achieve yet another podium finish in third place and was blessed by the safety car finish avoiding a battle with a much faster Sainz. Sainz was punished by the safety car and his late surge was put to a stop forcing him to be content with P4.
REST OF THE PACK
Lewis Hamilton rebounded well from starting the race at the back of the grid and ending up in fifth place, followed by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in sixth place and scored the fastest lap of the race. Norris could smile landing in seventh followed by the much-improved Alpha Tauri of Pierre Gasly in eighth.
Nick De Vries was voted driver of the day for finishing in ninth place scoring two points in his rookie debut. One can wonder if De Vries’s performance might spell the end of Latiffi at Williams who has yet to score any points this season. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu rounded off the point earner in the tenth position after a solid race in Italy.
Formula 1 will take a three-week break due to the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix and will return to Asia at the Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Marna Bay is one of the most challenging and unforgiving tracks in F1, but will that be enough to slow Verstappen down? With the possibility of wrapping up the driver’s championship, one can be sure Red Bull and Verstappen will be bringing the heat and no one can likely do a thing about it.
2022 ITALIAN GRAND PRIX FINAL STANDINGS
|1||MAX VERSTAPPEN||NETHERLANDS||RED BULL|
|4||CARLOS SAINZ JR||SPAIN||FERRARI|
|6||SERGIO PEREZ||MEXICO||RED BULL||1:24.336|
|8||PIERRE GASLY||FRANCE||ALPHA TAURI|
|9||NICK DE VRIES||NETHERLANDS||WILLIAMS|
|10||ZHOU GUANYU||CHINA||ALFA ROMEO|
|13||VALTERRI BOTTAS||FINLAND||ALFA ROMEO|
|14||YUKI TSUNODA||JAPAN||ALPHA TAURI|
|RETIRED||DANIEL RICCIARDO-LAP 45||AUSTRALIA||MCLAREN|
|RETIRED||LANCE STROLL-39||CANADA||ASTON MARTIN|
|RETIRED||FERNANDO ALONSO-LAP 31||SPAIN||ALPINE|
|RETIRED||SEBASTIEN VETTEL-LAP 10||GERMANY||ASTON MARTIN|