Max Verstappen breaks new ground with record victory at Italian Grand Prix

Verstappen was patient in overtaking Carlos Sainz but once done, a 10th victory in a row was inevitable

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Sunday 03 September 2023 19:17 BST
'The best feeling' - Sainz snatches pole from Verstappen and Leclerc at Monza

New ground, even for Max Verstappen. A 10th Formula One victory in a row – breaking Sebastian Vettel’s record from 10 years ago – and another win at the home of Ferrari. But the Monza crowd were treated under the blazing Italian sunshine on Sunday to some brilliant racing at the front of the field throughout. Even with the spot at the top of the podium something of an inevitability once more.

To the end, the battles ensued. While Sergio Perez eventually took second to secure a Red Bull one-two, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc continued to squabble for that final podium spot. In the end, pole-sitter Sainz kept hold of a very much deserved third position: the Spaniard’s first podium of the season.

Mercedes were the next-best of the rest in fifth and sixth for George Russell and Lewis Hamilton respectively, while Alex Albon drove one of the defensive races of his life to keep hold of P7 from the McLaren of Lando Norris. The Williams resurgence has been one of the more uplifting sub-plots of the season so far.

Max Verstappen claimed another victory at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday (Getty Images)

For Verstappen, though, this one wasn’t as comfortable as many that have gone by. At the home of Ferrari, the opening 45 minutes were enthralling – and he didn’t have it all his own way. And right at the start, amid the red smoke of the excitable tifosi at Monza, out of nowhere a delay. Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri broke down on the formation lap, resulting in a 20-minute delay to the start of the race.

But when the lights eventually went out, it was clean and tidy throughout the pack. Sainz – leading race laps for the first time in 2023 – did well to hold off Verstappen, first after a surge down the outside from the Dutchman on lap six, and then continuously down the home straight.

“They have a lot of top speed down the straights!” noted Verstappen. A sense of shock in the Dutchman’s cockpit. But by lap 15, coming out of turn one and around the Curva Grande, Sainz could not hold on any longer. To the disappointment of the thousands in the stands, despite a valiant fight from Sainz, the route for Verstappen to history was no longer obscured.

The battle, as it so often has been this season, was then behind the champion-in-waiting. All the pack – bar Hamilton – pitted onto hard tyres from mediums and the order was largely restored. The question now was, could the Ferraris hold off Sergio Perez, storming around in the second Red Bull?

Carlos Sainz held the lead at the start but could not stop Verstappen in the end (Getty Images)


1. Max Verstappen

2. Sergio Perez

3. Carlos Sainz

4. Charles Leclerc

5. George Russell

6. Lewis Hamilton

7. Alex Albon

8. Lando Norris

9. Fernando Alonso

10. Valtteri Bottas

In the end, the answer was no. Of course it was no. Red Bull have been peerless this season and – with a 15th win in a row overall, a 14th win this season – are still on track for an unprecedented, faultless campaign.

The common theme prevailed, with Perez first taking Leclerc down the home straight into turn one before Sainz – despite once more defending brilliantly, positioning his car exquisitely in the right spot – eventually had to concede with 10 laps to go.

But this final race of the European stint remained intoxicating. Squabbles between the two McLarens for position saw Norris clip team-mate Oscar Piastri, while both Russell and Hamilton received five-second penalties; at fault for two separate incidents.

Hamilton’s overtake late on of Albon meant it was, in the end, irrelevant for the seven-time world champion but not for Piastri, who subsequently had to pit for a new front nose and finished outside the top 10. Hamilton apologised after the race. Norris took eighth, with Fernando Alonso in ninth and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas took the final point in 10th.

It is Verstappen’s 10th win in a row – a new Formula 1 record (Getty Images)

What is not irrelevant, however, is the significance of Red Bull’s and Verstappen’s achievements. Race by race, tearing up the record books. The route back for the rest remains some way away, as we move onto the long-haul races. Singapore in two weeks; Japan in three. No matter the location or the track, it is difficult to decipher where this RB19 can be beaten this year.

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