• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Max Verstappen wins at Monza under Safety Car

BySean Clark

Sep 11, 2022
Max Verstappen celebrates Italian Grand Prix win

Photo courtesy of Formula 1

Max Verstappen won his 11th race of the 2022 Formula 1 season during the Italian Grand Prix under the Safety Car, passing his total from the 2021 world championship season.

He spoiled the home race for Ferrari as the Tifosi gathered at the “Temple of Speed” of Monza were hoping for a Charles Leclerc victory. Leclerc started on pole and attempted to hold off Verstappen who started in P7.

On Lap 12, Sebastian Vettel stalled on the track in his final Italian Grand Prix. The Virtual Safety Car was brought out and Ferrari brought Leclerc into the pits to gain a cheap pit stop.

It did not work out as the race resumed just as he entered pit road. Verstappen took the lead for 13 laps before his pit stop on Lap 26. The gap was 10 seconds for Leclerc in the lead, but Verstappen quickly gained on the Ferrari driver.

Seven laps later, Leclerc was brought into the pits and given soft tires in an attempt to track down Verstappen over the final 20 laps. However, it backfired as Leclerc’s lap times were similar to the Dutchman’s on fresher tires. Verstappen cruised away from the other leaders.

A tease for drama was hinted at toward the end of the race as Daniel Ricciardo, who won last year’s race at Monza, stalled on the track with about five laps to go. The safety car was brought out a couple laps later, bunching the field together.

Alas, there was not a repeat of last year’s infamous Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as none of the lapped cars overtook the Safety Car and the race ended under a Safety Car. Verstappen took home the victory for the fifth-consecutive race and has the opportunity to wrap up the championship at the Singapore Grand Prix in three weeks with a 116-point lead.

Verstappen’s victory saw him achieve his first podium at the track after DNFing the past two seasons at Monza. His previous best result at the track was P5 in 2018.

“We had a great race,” Verstappen said. “We had a really good race car and we were controlling the gap and then the Safety Car came out. Unfortunately we didn’t get a restart.”

In Ferrari’s home race, Leclerc finished P2 for the first time since the Miami Grand Prix on May 8. George Russell finished on the podium for the sixth time in 2022 with a P3 result after starting on the front row.

Leclerc’s result allowed him to pass Sergio Perez for P2 in the driver’s standings.

“The end was frustrating,” Leclerc said. “I wish we could have ended up racing. It’s a shame. I gave it all. I wish I could have won in front of the amazing Tifosi.”

Throughout the early stages of the race, Carlos Sainz passed many cars in the midfield as he attempted to work his way from a P18 start after taking a grid penalty for a new power unit. By Lap 13, he was P4 and stayed there for the rest of the race.

Lewis Hamilton had the same situation as Sainz, starting P19 with a new power unit. He methodically worked his way through the field and landed in P5 midway through the race. He held serve and secured the position for yet another top-five finish in 2022.

Perez had a chaotic race as he pitted three times with the first one seeing his right front tire overheating on Lap 8. Despite this, he still dominated the midfield and achieved a P6 result.

Lando Norris finished P7, once again placing himself as the highest finisher among all drivers outside the top three teams. Pierre Gasly, who won at Monza in 2020, finished P8.

Dutch driver Nyck de Vries made his Formula 1 debut after Alexander Albon was forced to withdraw from the weekend as he underwent treatment for appendicitis on Saturday. On short notice, de Vries made it to Q2 with Williams Racing and with all the grid penalties, he started P8.

He held his own throughout the race, passed Zhou Guanyu late in the race and held off other point contenders. Impressively, he finished P9 to pick up his first points in F1. Since his teammate Nicholas Latifi has zero points in 2022, de Vries is P20 in the driver’s standings.

Zhou still scored a point to round out the top 10.

Fernando Alonso was forced to withdraw from the race on Lap 32, ending his 10-race streak of finishing in the top 10.

The 2022 Formula 1 season will take three weeks off after this latest tripleheader on the calendar. Next up will be the first Singapore Grand Prix since 2019 on Oct. 2.

Race results: