Verstappen Wins 5 in a Row!

Italy F1 GP Auto Racing

Though Max Verstappen won his fifth race in a row, he started seventh on the grid. Verstappen his teammate Sergio Perez took new engines for Monza. Verstappen is on his fifth new engine of the season. Each team is allocated three engines before penalties are assessed. Despite a seventh-place start, Verstappen was already up to fourth place, getting a huge jump on the start, as he passed by Lando Norris well before the first chicane of the race. By the time he rounded the 3.6 mile circuit and was back on the main straight heading into lap two, Verstappen was powering past Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren at a blistering pace. As lap five started, a Red Bull and a Mercedes were heading into the chicane at turn one. Last year, Verstappen and Hamilton crashed out in this same chicane in spectacular fashion. This year, it was Verstappen and George Russell heading into the same chicane and the results were much tamer. There wasn’t even a tire rub as Verstappen rolled by into second place. At lap twelve the race was yellow flagged due to Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin suffering a power failure on the track. Vettel was the first DNF of the race, eventually followed by Fernando Alonso and teammate Lance Stroll towards the end of the race. Ferrari decided to pit Charles Leclerc early, putting Verstappen in first and Leclerc in second on lap 13. From then on Verstappen had the edge, even when Verstappen pitted on lap 32. Red Bull and Verstappen had the race pace at Monza and no one could challenge them.

Though Ferrari couldn’t win at their home track, they actually had a decent day, despite Carlos Sainz taking a massive grid penalty. Sainz started at 17th due to an several major mechanical changes to include a new gear box and battery. The grid penalty’s effect on Sainz served only to keep him from competing for a podium spot. He spent the first half of the race masterfully driving thru the field, finding himself in third at lap 26. However, due to tire strategies of other teams, and the fact that he had not pitted yet, his third position was short lived. Still, Sainz driving from seventeenth to third is a feat that seems to be ignored by the Formula 1 commentators and the fans alike. The driver of the day was rookie Dutchman, Nyk De Vries. He qualified thirteenth, started eighth, and finished ninth. It was an outstanding debut for the Williams substitute driver. However, I think it’s more impressive to pass fourteen Formula 1 cars and earn a fourth-place position. That is what Carlos Sainz did. De Vries’s accomplishment is not to be discounted. Frankly, I think it is to be expected, considering he is a Formula E champion.

The only drama of the day occurred towards the end of the race. Monza is a 53-lap circuit and at lap 47, the race was yellow flagged due to Ricciardo’s McLaren suffering an engine failure. It took the race directors three laps just to get the safety car on track who placed themselves in front of George Russell’s third place car, making it difficult for lapped cars to pass thru. Additionally, the race stewards couldn’t clear Ricciardo’s McLaren quickly enough and the race finished under a yellow flag. Christian Horner, team principal for Red Bull stated that they didn’t want to win under a safety car. I agree. Racing is about competition. Monza should have been red flagged to allow the top three competitors to duke it out and give the fans a great finish.

Seven teams had a driver finish in the points. Only Haas, Aston Martin and Alpine were on the outside looking in. Notably, rookie Zhou Guanyu earned tenth place for Alpha Romeo. He was the second rookie to finish in the top ten at Monza

It’s disappointing that Ferrari could not win at home. However, Verstappen’s achievements cannot be discounted. This is his 11th win of the season. It is his 5th win a row. In fact, it is his first podium finish at Monza. Finally, Verstappen has now podiumed on every track on the current Formula 1 circuit. Depending on where he finishes, he could lock up the championship in Singapore in two weeks. Ferrari has made great strides this year, however it does not appear to be enough to win the championship.

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