Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen has all but guaranteed his second world title by taking the win on Sunday at the Italian Grand Prix, held at a packed Autodromo Nazionale Monza, which celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc came second, some 2.4 seconds behind Verstappen, in a race that finished with the safety car pacing the racers after a car had stopped on the track, while Mercedes-Benz AMG’s George Russell finished third, 3.4 seconds behind the winner.
Leclerc started the race on pole, with Verstappen back at seventh after taking a five-place grid penalty for use of a new power unit. Leclerc led immediately after the lights turned green, with Russell close on his tail. Meanwhile Verstappen was already up to fourth on the first lap and, with a brilliant move past McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo at the start of the second lap, already reached a podium position. He passed Russell on the start of the fifth lap, with the leader Leclerc at this point just two seconds ahead.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel came to a stop on lap 11, which meant the virtual safety car was released. Ferrari decided to pit Leclerc while Verstappen stayed out, now in the lead spot. Leclerc rejoined in third, behind Russell, but soon moved into second.
Verstappen eventually entered the pits for the first time at the end of lap 25 and rejoined in second, behind Leclerc. With his fresh tires, Verstappen was eating away at the gap until it was about five seconds, at which point Ferrari decided to pit Leclerc again. He rejoined the race in second with 19 seconds between him and Verstappen.
Little changed from this point but then on lap 48, Ricciardo came to a stop, requiring the safety car to be deployed. With Verstappen in the lead, followed by Leclerc and Russell, all three entered the pits to switch to fresh tires. However, Ricciardo’s car being stuck at the end of the track meant a lengthy extraction and thus the race finished under the safety car.
Notably, Dutch driver Nyck de Vries made his F1 debut on Sunday by filling in for Williams driver Alex Albon, who was out due to a case of appendicitis. The Dutch youngster qualified 13th but started the race at eighth thanks to the penalties for other drivers. He ended up finishing ninth, scoring two points in his maiden race. It means de Vries is now ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, who remains at zero points with most of the season behind him.
Following the weekend’s action, Verstappen’s points tally in the 2022 Drivers’ Championship has grown to 335 points. Leclerc is second with 219 points and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is third with 210 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 545 points, versus the 406 of Ferrari and 371 of Mercedes.
Following the conclusion of the Italian Grand Prix, the European rounds of the 2022 season are over. Teams now take a short break before returning in three weeks for the Singapore Grand Prix, the first time the race will be held there since 2019.
Based on the current standings, Verstappen could potentially take the title in Singapore if he wins the race and scores a bonus point for fastest lap, though Leclerc would have to finish ninth or lower.
Below are the full results from the 2022 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix:
1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
2) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari +2.446 seconds
3) George Russell, Mercedes-Benz AMG +3.405 seconds
4) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari +5.061 seconds
5) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz AMG +5.380 seconds
6) Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing +6.091 seconds
7) Lando Norris, McLaren +6.207 seconds
8) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri +6.396 seconds
9) Nyck De Vries, Williams +7.122 seconds
10) Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo +7.910 seconds
11) Esteban Ocon, Alpine +8.323 seconds
12) Mick Schumacher, Haas +8.549 seconds
13) Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo +1 lap
14) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri +1 lap
15) Nicholas Latifi, Williams +1 lap
16) Kevin Magnussen, Haas +1 lap
NC) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren – DNF
NC) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin – DNF
NC) Fernando Alonso, Alpine – DNF
NC) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin – DNF
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