Who will stop Max Verstappen?
The two-time defending Formula 1 champion easily set a new F1 record with his 10th race win in a row Sunday in the Italian Grand Prix. Verstappen had to chase the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz through the opening laps, but once he got past Sainz as the Ferrari’s tires wore out quicker than Verstappen’s Red Bull, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way.
The win breaks Verstappen’s tie with former Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel for the most consecutive wins. Vettel won nine consecutive races to end the 2013 season as he won his fourth and final title.
The victory also extends a record for Red Bull. The win is the 15th consecutive for the team dating back to the final race of 2022. Sergio Perez, who finished second to Verstappen on Sunday, won the second and fourth races of the 2023 season. Verstappen won the 2022 season finale in Abu Dhabi in November, the 2023 season opener in Bahrain and also in Melbourne before starting his 10-race win streak.
Verstappen is now 145 points ahead of Perez in the driver’s standings with eight races to go in the season. If Verstappen keeps winning, he will clinch the 2023 title with a handful of races to go. With 25 points available to race winners, Verstappen looks most likely to clinch at the Qatar Grand Prix on Oct. 8.
Ferrari finishes ahead of Mercedes
Sainz and teammate Charles Leclerc had stellar qualifying pace and sandwiched Verstappen on the grid. Sainz had a good getaway from the pole position and kept Verstappen at bay for as long as he could. But once Verstappen got past, the race was effectively over and Sainz and Leclerc had to worry about staying ahead of Perez.
Sainz came home in third ahead of Leclerc in fourth in what’s Ferrari’s home race at Monza. It was still an excellent result for Ferrari as they were able to be ahead of both Mercedes drivers in fifth and sixth. George Russell finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton while Alex Albon was a strong seventh in his Williams ahead of Lando Norris and Fernando Alonso.
When could someone else win?
The Sept. 24 race in Singapore could be an opportunity for a driver in a non-Red Bull car to win. But at this point, it’s not worth counting on. A Red Bull season sweep gets more feasible with every passing race, though the odds are still stacked against it. No F1 team has ever swept an entire season’s worth of races and Ferrari and Mercedes have shown enough flashes of pace to make an upset feel possible at some point.
An upset was never likely to happen on Sunday, even with Ferrari cars starting first and third and Russell starting fourth. The long straights and high-speed corners at Monza are perfect for this Red Bull car, especially in race trim. It was astounding how quickly Verstappen pulled away from Sainz after he got past him 15 laps into the 51-lap race.
Sunday’s race was shortened from 53 laps to 51 laps after drivers made two extra formation laps before the start because of Yuki Tsunoda’s broken AlphaTauri. Tsunoda had a mechanical issue on the formation lap and was forced to stop his car before he even got to the starting grid.
Italian Grand Prix results
Max Verstappen (1), Red Bull-Honda RBPT
Sergio Perez (11), Red Bull-Honda RBPT
Carlos Sainz (55), Ferrari
Charles Leclerc (16), Ferrari
George Russell (63), Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton (44), Mercedes
Alexander Albon (23), Williams-Mercedes
Lando Norris (4), McLaren-Mercedes
Fernando Alonso (14), Aston Martin-Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas (77), Alfa Romeo-Ferrari
Oscar Piastri (81), McLaren-Mercedes
Logan Sargeant (2), Williams-Mercedes
Liam Lawson (12), AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT
Lance Stroll (18), Aston Martin-Mercedes
Zhou Guanyu (24), Alfa Romeo-Ferrari
Pierre Gasly (10), Alpine-Renault
Nico Hülkenberg, (27), Haas-Ferrari
Kevin Magnussen (20), Haas-Ferrari
Esteban Ocon (31), Alpine-Renault
Did not start:
Yuki Tsunoda (22), AlphaTauri-Honda RBPT