F1 – Italian GP – Race

Ciao, MiniFans! It’s race day in Monza, where the tifosi have already been witnesses to a Ferrari pole position. The Temple of Speed has seen five different winners in the last five years, something that gives them hope, as it was Verstappen who was victorious last season. Will the tifosi be able to celebrate? Or will they leave with a bitter flavour in their mouths?

The prospect of a single stop made mediums be the most common choice among drivers, with just a few hards scattered in between, the most notable being Hamilton, out of position and needing to give a contrasting strategy a try. Tsunoda’s engine failing on the formation lap produced an aborted start so that marshals could have an extra slow lap to retrieve the AlphaTauri. However, they couldn’t due to it being stuck in gear, so the race start was delayed and a new start procedure implemented. The two extra formation laps were discounted from the total number of them and the race finally went underway.

A good start by Sainz helped him keep first place under Verstappen’s attacks, who also had to protect his position from Leclerc. Russell almost managed to get past the Monegasque, but had to conform himself with staying behind as the cars started to get in a single file line. Hamilton had managed to get into the points with his hard tyres as the DRS was finally enabled and Verstappen became a permanent fixture in Sainz’s mirrors, getting very close to his rear wing at times, but Leclerc wasn’t letting go either, a bit further apart but still less than a second away from the Red Bull.

The battle at the front wasn’t the only one, as there were many cars within a second of each other on track, but even the DRS wasn’t help enough for many of them, including a Verstappen who was suffering from Ferrari’s top speed, while his teammate was struggling while trying to find a spot to pass Russell. Once Leclerc started to lose a bit of time to them, Sainz soon lost to Verstappen as well, managing to make one move that stuck after the Ferrari blocked his tyres and struggled a bit to recover from it.

Once Verstappen had gotten past, he was able to easily pull away lap by lap but Ferrari needed a good handful of laps to call Sainz in, who stopped one lap before his teammate and Verstappen did. The Spaniard’s worse stop made it so that he almost lost his position to his teammate, who attacked him almost instantly. Meanwhile, Verstappen was closing in on Hamilton, who was leading as he hadn’t stopped yet, and very easily overtook him at the end of the main straight. On the other hand, the second Mercedes on track got a 5-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

As Verstappen opened up his usual gap, the fight for second was heating up, with both Ferraris trying to keep Pérez behind. He needed a few laps and a fierce battle to get past Leclerc, which Sainz used to try and start pulling away. He managed a slight gap with the help of his teammate, who didn’t leave Pérez’s DRS zone for a long while, forcing him to keep some focus on his mirrors even as the Mexican got into Sainz’s DRS zone as well.

With ten laps to go, Piastri and Hamilton collided, with a broken front wing for the Australian seemingly as the only casualty and a five-second penalty for the British driver for causing the accident, whereas Pérez had gotten so close to Sainz that he was pretty much breathing down his neck attempt after attempt. In one of those tries, he went wide in turn one and a small piece of carbon fibre flew off his car, which didn’t seem to matter much as the Red Bull finally got past in the following lap.

The last handful of laps saw a fierce battle between the Ferraris, who were being allowed to compete between them by the team, unlike in many other instances where they had been forced to keep positions, offering one last speck of entertainment, the only radios broadcasted being Sainz seemingly asking for peace and the team telling Leclerc to race but with no risk as Verstappen and Pérez cruised to the finish line.

Ferrari had managed to be the best on Saturday, when one perfect lap was all that counted, but Sunday brought them back down to earth and to Red Bull’s race pace being superior to everybody else’s. They were the ones to pick up the crumbs left behind, clenching the last step of the podium in their grasp and an unthinkable fourth place just a few races ago. Meanwhile, Verstappen managed to achieve a record tenth consecutive victory, this time needing to put in some work to achieve it.