Italian Grand Prix – Max Verstappen made history with a tenth consecutive win in a row as he led a Red Bull 1-2 to beat the Ferraris at home.
After giving the Tifosi a lot to cheer about at the end of qualifying, Carlos Sainz will start on pole ahead of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. Over the past few years there has been a pattern of drivers retiring from the Italian Grand Prix the year after they won. The question now though it whether Verstappen, the 2022 winner, will be able to break that misfortune streak, and if he does, will he be able to win again to take a record-breaking tenth consecutive win to move him ahead of Sebastien Vettel who’d held the record of nine since 2013.
Race Results – 2023 Italian Grand Prix
The yellow-ringed medium tyre was the most favoured choice to start the race with all but Lewis Hamilton P8, Valtteri Bottas P14, and Kevin Magnussen P19 opting to start on the white-walled hard compound instead.
After no grid penalties the drivers all started the Formation Lap in the positions they qualified in but the drama at the Temple of Speed started early with Yuki Tsunoda pulling over to the side of the track towards the end of the lap with an engine failure.
The start was aborted and the nineteen cars headed off on a second Formation Lap to allow the marshals clear Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri. Leclerc had a little worry as his car wasn’t turning correctly in right hand corners but Ferrari assured him that everything looked alright on the telemetry.
Unfortunately Tsunoda’s car was stuck in gear and couldn’t be pushed clear so the start was abandoned to allow a truck to go and collect the stranded car. There was a bit of a delay before the gate was opened and teams were allowed to go back onto the track to look after their cars, there might be a bit of an issue though as two Red Bull team members jumped over the pit wall and stood at the side of the circuit prior to the gate being opened.
The next attempt at a Formation Lap and race start was then announced to be at 15:20 local time, twenty minutes after the initially scheduled start time. Due to the additional Formation Laps, the race would now be raced over 51 laps instead of 53.
The race finally got underway and there was no change in the top five with Sainz remaining ahead of Verstappen, Leclerc, George Russell and Sergio Perez. Both McLarens made up a place at the start with Oscar Piastri getting ahead of Alex Albon for P6 while Lando Norris demoted Lewis Hamilton to P9.
Albon stayed right on Piastri’s tail though and on lap two he moved back into P6 after getting back ahead at the second chicane. At the front, the top three were all still within a second of each other with Verstappen still sandwiched between the Ferraris. The red Bull driver sounded very confident as he reported that Sainz was sliding around a bit on lap 4.
Lap six saw the Dutch driver try to make a move down the outside of the Spaniard at the first chicane but Sainz held him off to keep Ferrari in the lead. Verstappen described the defence as “naughty” while Ferrari congratulated their driver on a “good move”.
Lap 14 saw Russell and Perez both go off track at the first chicane as the Red Bull driver tried to get into P4 the Mexican ceded the place back to the Mercedes. The following lap saw another overtake attempt at T1 but this time for the lead, a little lock up from Sainz on the run to T1 allowed Verstappen to get alongside and the two were side-by-side all the way to the second chicane but the Red Bull driver had the inside line and was able to make the move stick.
While Perez managed to make his own move stick on lap 16 to now have the Ferraris sandwiched between the two Red Bulls, Verstappen had managed to open a second’s worth of a gap to Sainz and continue to extend that over the following laps.
Lap 20 saw Sainz and Russell head to the pits, they emerged on hard tyres in P9 and P10, just behind Bottas. The following lap saw Verstappen and Leclerc make their own stops for hards and they came back out on either side of Sainz with Verstappen in P6 and Leclerc P8.
Perez made his own stop from the lead on lap 22, and was once again behind the two Ferraris, while the McLarens and Hamilton, who still had to stop, took over the top three spots.
Lap 24 saw Russell get handed a five second time penalty for overtaking Esteban Ocon by going across the first chicane and not giving the position back. As that was announced, there was a bit of contact between the McLarens as Piastri came out of the pitlane right beside Norris and the two fought over P10 in the chicane, Norris coming out on top on that occasion.
Verstappen got back into the lead on lap 25 when he passed Hamilton on track and the Mercedes driver remained out on track until lap 28, just as the Ferraris had caught up with and passed him. He emerged in P10 on medium tyres just behind Alonso.
Perez made a move for the final podium spot on lap 31 but Leclerc was able to hold him off at the first chicane, he stayed on the rear of the Ferrari though the run to the next chicane and even got a wheel on the grass. On the following lap however things went better for the Red Bull driver and he made the move work on the run to T1 to demote the Monegasque to P4.
Lap 38 saw a fight over P6 with Albon holding off Norris through the first chicane, the McLaren driver bailed out and cut the chicane but gave the position back. Norris was then told to “box to overtake” but didn’t head to the pits so it seemed to be a bluff that Williams didn’t fall for.
Hamilton had caught up to the back of the Albon, Norris, Piastri fight and on lap 41 there was contact between Piastri and Hamilton as the Mercedes squeezed the McLaren driver as they headed to the second chicane. They both went into the run off, Hamilton took the P8 while the Australian was left with front wing damage that he had to pit to fix. Hamilton was given a five second time penalty as a result.
Lap 45 saw Perez make a move on Sainz at the first chicane but had to go over the run off and give the position back, the next lap though he made it work on the run down the start/finish straight, as he did with Leclerc, and it was a Red Bull 1-2.
Lap 47 saw a battle between the Ferraris with the teammates almost making contact on multiple occasions as Leclerc initially got ahead but Sainz managed to hold onto the final podium spot the battle continued over the next lap but the positions remained the same. Behind them Hamilton had got the better of both Norris and Albon to move into P6 and with a twenty second gap to his teammate ahead, it was just up to the seven-time champion to pull at least five seconds to the car behind to secure P6.
As the Ferrari battle continued with more close calls, so did the Albon/Norris fight though in the end neither position changed. Verstappen took the chequered flag first to set a new consecutive wins record – 10 in a row – and break the Monza curse of the past few years. He was followed home by Perez and Sainz who took his first podium of the year by just 0.184 seconds to Leclerc.
Russell and Hamilton took P5 and P6 and both had enough of a gap that their five second penalties didn’t have any effect on their positions. Albon took his first consecutive points finish of the year, equalling his best position with P7. Norris was P8 ahead of Alonso while Bottas took the final point of the race. Piastri set the fastest lap, a 1:25.072, but as he finished outside the top ten, P12, he won’t get the point for it.