Max Verstappen is in a league of his own despite boring safety car finish, Lewis Hamilton bounced back from his radio rant… and Nyck De Vries made an instant impact in F1 – SIX THINGS we learned from the Italian Grand Prix
- Max Verstappen won his fifth successive race at the Italian Grand Prix
- He showed his class, even though the race finished behind the safety car
- Lewis Hamilton finished fifth after his radio rant at the Dutch GP last week
- Nyck De Vries picked up points by finishing ninth on his first start for Williams
- Sportsmail takes a look at six things we learned from the weekend at Monza
Another weekend of Formula One racing has come and gone, and once again it was Max Verstappen who emerged victorious at the Italian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman started the race down in seventh after taking a five-place grid penalty, but he quickly surged through the field to secure his fifth successive win.
Charles Leclerc tried to chase him down, but a late safety car scuppered his chances and he had to settle for second, while George Russell ensured Mercedes got the final place on the podium.
Max Verstappen (centre) finished on top of the podium once again, with Charles Leclerc (left) second and George Russell (right) third
It is now only a matter of time before Verstappen wraps up his second successive world title, but the weekend’s action at Monza provided plenty of talking points.
Sportsmail has picked out six things we learned from the Italian Grand Prix…
Verstappen is in a league of his own
Verstappen started down in 14th place in Spa last month and still managed to win, so it was not a complete shock that he won from seventh this time around.
But it was still pretty spectacular as to how easily he cruised past his rivals and into first place.
It appeared there was always a chance that he could be held up by the traffic in front at the start, while the Ferrari had looked good in qualifying, indicating that Leclerc could pick up his fourth race win of the season.
Verstappen won again in Monza and is closing in on his second successive world title
Indeed, Verstappen admitted before the race that he was aiming for a top-two finish, such was his uncertainty about whether a win was actually possible.
Yet he moved up to third within two laps, and quickly set his sights on Leclerc. From then on, it was only a matter of time before he caught and passed him to pick up his 11th win of the campaign.
After last year’s thrilling battle with Lewis Hamilton, this season has been a procession for Verstappen, and his 116-point advantage at the top of the standings shows just how far ahead he is the rest of the field.
Ferrari strategy backfires once again
Ferrari have made a habit of making some truly bizarre strategic calls this season which have cost them valuable points.
It would be harsh to be too critical of them for what happened this weekend, but ultimately the one gamble that they did take didn’t pay off.
When Sebastian Vettel retired his car on lap 12, Ferrari opted to bring Leclerc into the pits while the race was under virtual safety car conditions.
Ferrari tried pitting Charles Leclerc early, but their strategy failed to pay off
This meant that they did not lose too much ground to Verstappen, but it also ruled out the possibility of them using a one-stop strategy.
Sure enough, Leclerc had to pit again later in the race, and by the time he returned to the track he was 20 seconds behind the championship leader.
Ferrari were in constant communication with Leclerc during the race, and he seemed happy enough with the calls they were making as they mentioned ‘Plan B’ and ‘Plan C’, but whatever they used in the end didn’t work, and it was a familiar outcome for Leclerc as he finished second best to Verstappen.
Hamilton bounces back
Hamilton had been left cursing his luck after the previous two races before Monza.
At Spa, he collided with Fernando Alonso on the opening lap and crashed out of the race. The following week, it looked like he could pick up his first win of 2022 at the Dutch Grand Prix, but Mercedes’ decision to leave him out on track on old tyres while his rivals pitted backfired as he slipped from first to fourth in the closing laps.
He needed to get back on track in Italy, but his task was made more difficult when he was given a grid penalty that meant that he had to start down in 19th.
Lewis Hamilton bounced back from a couple of difficult weekends to finish fifth
In truth, he did not get a particularly impressive start to the race, and it looked early on like he would be battling for minor points at best.
Yet slowly but surely he worked his way through the field, executing one move where he overtook Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly at the same time.
He ended up finishing fifth, which was realistically the best he could hope for given where he started on the grid. Perhaps he could still get that elusive race win before the end of the season.
De Vries makes an instant impact
Nyck De Vries only found out he was driving for Williams on Saturday morning.
With Alex Albon suffering from appendicitis, De Vries was called in to replace him and he took his opportunity.
The Dutchman has pedigree after triumphing in Formula 2 in 2019 and Formula E last year, but Formula One is a different matter altogether.
Nyck De Vries looked right at home as a Formula One driver for Williams over the weekend
His performance at Monza could earn him a regular seat for the team next season
Still, he made the step up with no issues at all, and managed to finish ninth to earn himself two points on his debut as a Williams driver.
To put that into context, Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi has had 16 races this season and has not registered a point yet.
There has been speculation that Latifi could be replaced next year, and De Vries has certainly put himself in the mix to get a regular seat after his weekend performance.
Ricciardo’s miserable season continues
Daniel Ricciardo can’t catch a break this season.
After nine grid penalties were handed out ahead of Sunday’s race, he was pushed up into fourth place on the starting grid. The chance to earn significant points was right in front of him.
As the race progressed, the likes of Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Hamilton went past him, but he was still comfortably inside the top 10 with just five laps to go.
Daniel Ricciardo looked on course to earn some points, but had to stop his car late on
Then his car gave up on him. From looking certain to gain some points, Ricciardo had to stop his car on the side of the track with nothing to show for his efforts.
He remains on 19 points from 16 races this season, 69 points behind team-mate Norris, and it has undoubtedly been a campaign to forget for the Australian.
He will still hope to finish on a high before he leaves McLaren at the end of the year, but he will need a change in fortunes to achieve this.
Finishing behind the safety car is boring
When Ricciardo stopped with five laps to go, it looked like his misfortune could actually spice up the race.
Before that, Verstappen had opened up a gap of more than 15 seconds to Leclerc, but the prospect of a safety car coming out for a couple of laps to bunch up the field before a sprint finish to the end looked to be a distinct possibility.
What actually happened was the race marshals could not move Ricciardo’s car as it was stuck in gear, which led to the remaining cars going around at snail’s pace for the final five laps behind the safety car. It was a dull ending to the race, and the Italian crowd, who were hoping for a Ferrari win, made their feelings clear as they booed Verstappen afterwards.
It was hardly his fault, but Verstappen must also have known that this could easily have been the same scenario for him in Abu Dhabi last year, only he would have been kept behind Hamilton and the Brit would have won his eighth world title.
Sunday’s race finished behind the safety car which was dull viewing for spectators
What this race showed is that finishing behind the safety car is boring and should be avoided as much as possible.
Red-flagging the race and resuming from a standing start would have been far more compelling viewing, but the stewards allowed the race to drift to an unsatisfactory conclusion instead.
If they want to attract more fans to the sport, this was not the way to do it.
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