Otherwise, though, that’s us – thanks for your company and comments, and enjoy the rest of the weekend.
So, with six races to go, Verstappen leads by 116 points. That means he can clinch the driver championship under the lights in Singapore in a fortnight – but only if he scores 14 more points than Leclerc – first v fifth, for example. If it’s not then, though, it’ll be soon.
1 Verstappen 335
2 Leclerc 219
3 Perez 210
4 Russell 203
5 Sainz Jr 187
6 Hamilton 168
1 Verstappen (Red Bull)
2 Leclerc (Ferrari)
3 Russell (Mercedes)
4 Sainz Jr (Ferrari)
5 Hamilton (Mercedes)
6 Perez (Red Bull)
7 Norris (McLaren)
8 Gasly (AlphaTauri)
9 De Vries (Williams)
10 Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
11 Ocon (Alpine)
12 Schumacher (Haas)
13 Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
14 Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
15 Latifi (Williams)
16 Magnussen (Haas)
DNF Ricciardo (McLaren), Stroll (Aston Martin), Alonso (Alpine), Vettel (Aston Martin)
Here’s our race report…
“Ricciardo’s car being stopped could easily have been covered by double waved yellows,” reckons Chris Pollard, “without any risk to the drivers or spectators. There was no reason to run the safety car up to the chequered flag. It’s just blatant bias on behalf of the race organisers.”
I’m not sure about that – it’s easy to be liberal about these things when actual responsibility for safety is someone else’s. I’m also not sure it would’ve made any difference to the finish either, nor that it would’ve been fair to reduce a 53-lap race to two laps, for reasons of entertainment. I’m not sure what’s right here, is what I’m saying, but I see both sides.
Russell says he told his team that, fast or slow, they keep getting these podiums, and thinks Verstappen and Leclerc were too quick today.
Verstappen says he wanted a restart, but his team were the fastest on every compound, and it was “really enjoyable to drive today”, though a bit hot. Leclerc is frustrated not to have had a race at the end, but he gave it all and is disappointed not to have won in front of the tifosi. There’s still a load of booing.
So well done Nyck de Vries, who wins points on his F1 debut; he’s got some talent, and I think there’s a good chance we see him more frequently next season, not just when Alex Albon is out.
“It’s a shame it didn’t get going at the end there,” Christian Horner tells Verstappen, “but you were the fastest car all weekend.” And pretty much every other weekend too, but the crowd don’t like the way the race finished, booing their displeasure – though they’ll know we’d have seen more or less the same outcome had we had a red flag then a proper rush to the finish.
9 De Vries
Max Verstappen wins the Italian Grand Prix for Red Bull!
Behind the safety car, performing a virtual formation lap, but he won’t mind – this is his first podium in Monza, his fifth in a row, and he can win the title in Singapore next time out. Charles Leclerc is second for Ferrari, George Russell third for Mercedes.
Lap 53/53 Of course, driver safety is the most important thing, but there’s got to be a better way of finishing a race than this. I guess Verstappen was winning easily, so a red flag giving us an entertaining three-lap finish would’ve been unfair on him … and yes, my fingers started laughing as they typed that.
Lap 52/53 Yup, this is going to finish behind the safety car. Verstappen is cruising, and the question now is how does anyone catch him next season, because this season is O-V-E-R.
Lap 51/53 Ricciardo’s car is still there and no one’s there trying to move it, suggesting this race will finish behind the safety car. I don’t think it’s going to matter much.
9 De Vries
Lap 50/53 “According to Murphy’s law, everything that will go wrong will go wrong,” says Edwin Innih Imoesi. “I think we should institute Verstappen’s law: everything that will go right, will go right for him.”
It’s like Gary Player said, the more he practised, the luckier he got.
Lap 49/53 Verstappen comes in for a free pit and so does Leclerc; it’s possible we finish this race behind the safety car, which makes Verstappen’s 17-second lead so important. He did so well to build and nurse it, and his lead and the top of the standings looks set to increase.
Lap 48/53 Ricciardo’s car is stranded but on the side of the track – yellow flags might be enough to sort this. But no, the safety car comes out and with Verstappen and Leclerc past it, Russell, just by the pit lane, is called in. He changes to softs, and might he now have a chance of winning a late sprint?
Lap 47/53 We can talk about Ferrari’s strategy – should they have stopped once not twice, and used mediums? But ultimately, Verstappen is the best driver and has the fastest car, and sometimes there are no tactics able to override those realities. But hold on a second! Ricciardo has an engine problem, he’s parked at the side of the track, and we’ll surely get a safety car! Is Verstappen now vulnerable?
Lap 46/53 Leclerc is closing on Verastappen, but only by little bits – the lead is 17.427s, and Verstappen, who probably has pace in hand, is picking his way through back markers. I keep saying it, but the ease with which he’s sorted this race is ominous for everyone else.
Lap 45/53 After all the excitement of last year, it’s strange to see Verstappen winning both race and title so easily. It’s like when Jon Jones won his first UFC belt – he took his time beating Shogun Rua, but no one got close to him thereafter.
Lap 44/53 Perez, being caught by Hamilton, comes in for a fresh pair of softs and comes out behind Norris; he’s got work to do if he’s to pass both and wind up fifth. And have a look at Nyck de Vries, tenth and battling for a point on debut.
Lap 43/53 Verstappen is serene in front, while Schumacher overtakes Latifi to take 14th and holds off the riposte. I don’t think there’ll be much movement ebtween now and then finish, unless there’s an accident of some sort.
Lap 42/53 A double DNF for Aston Martin, Stroll, the only classified finisher in every race this season having to retire and join Vettel in the garage. Hamilton, sixth, is closing on Perez, fifth, but the gap, 15,934s, is too large to close in the 11 laps left.
Lap 41/53 Sainz, in fourth, is getting closer to Russell, in third; Russell isn’t getting near Leclerc, in second.
Lap 40/53 You sometimes see a player or team, in any sport, getting a break, or a win, and using it go on, which is exactly what’s happened with Verstappen. He oughtn’t to have won last year’s title, but he did, and has taken the confidence to on and improve. He’s now the best in the world, ahead of Hamilton not just because he’s got a better car.
Lap 38/53 Verstappen’s lead is reduced slightly, Leclerc’s soft tyres cutting the gap, but unless something significant happens, he’s not got a chance of getting within striking distance.
Lap 37/53 Those extra couple of seconds in the pit really cost Lando Nozza – it wasn’t long, timewise, but he’s now got Ricciardo and Hmailton ahead of him and not much prospect of clawing them back. Meantime, Leclerc sets a fastest lap, cutting Verstappen’s lead to 19.505s.
Lap 36/53 Verstappen is 0.4s faster than Leclerc and is soft new tyres, his lead now up to 20.078s; Norris comes in and his pit is slow, so when he comes out again he’s dropped from sixth to seventh, slotting in between Ricciardo and Gasly; Gasly passes him, then Hamilton passes both of them.
Lap 35/53 Verstappen leads Leclerc by 19.693s; will that be enough to hold off the soft tyres and Ferrari engine?
10 De Vries
Lap 34/53 Verstappen leads again as Leclerc comes out in second, conceding around 18s and on soft tyres; Hamilton puts and does likewise, coming out in 12th after three seconds stationary. He’s a load of traffic to get through if he’s to finish somewhere decent this afternoon.
Lap 33/53 Norris is now fourth, but he’ll have to pit again so is likely to finish lower rather than higher. Russell, meanwhile, has been told by his team that he should finish five seconds in front of Sainz while Leclerc is going to pit a second time in an effort to hold off Verstappen. And, as I type that, Sainz passes Perez.
Lap 32/53 Leclerc now leads by 6.287s, and will be hearing Jaws music in his earworm. Behind, Hamilton passes Perez to take fifth, but Alonso, who’s finished in the points for 10 straight races, is out of this one.
Lap 31/53 Sainz is called in and will take softs; Russell moves back up to third, and has a decent chance of hanging on. Sainz comes out in seventh, Perez stamping on the gas to he can’t take sixth, but I’m certain it won’t stay that way.
Lap 30/53 Behind Verstappen, Sinz has cooled a little and trails him by 15.706s; he’ll presumably change to softs at some point.
Lap 29/53 Leclerc now leads Verstappen by 7.947s and an overtake looks a matter of time. Except there’s a fair bit that can happen between now and when the champ is close enough, so Ferrari have hope yet.
Lap 28/53 Russell doesn’t like the hard tyre he’s been given, while it doesn’t seem to matter what Verstappen has – he’s on mediums, but his car’s basic pace is such that he’d probably be fine on anything.
Lap 27/53 Yet to come in, Hamilton is seventh … and he whooshes past Alonso on the straight. At the front, Verstappen has cut Leclerc’s lead to 9.253s, and he’s got plenty of time to eradicate it in its entirely.
Lap 26/53 Ferrari gained 10s by pitting with the virtual safety car out; the question now is whether Leclerc’s tyres will be fresh enough to get him to the end.
Lap 25/53 Sainz wants a soft tyre; though who knows if it’s possible to do that pursue a one-stop strategy? He sits third as Verstappen comes in and now Leclerc leads; Verstappen comes out in second 10.276s behind.
Lap 24/53 Hamilton gains on Alonso but isn’t quite ready to take him out, while Verstappen continues stretching his lead over Leclerc; it’s now in excess of 14s, but there’s a pot-stop coming up…
Lap 23/53 Perez made the podium from 19th on the grid last term, and there’s a decent chance Sainz does likewise from 18th/ He’s fourth, while, just behind them, Hamilton attacks Alonso.
Lap 22/53 Leclerc is motoring but behind him, Sainz is slowing, the gap nearly Verstappen’s lead is now over 10s, while Hamilton has moved up to seventh – but he’s not stopped yet.
Lap 21/53 Verstappen continues extending a lead he barely had to fight for, 8.870s in front, and if he stays there the driver championship is more or less settled – even more so than now.
Lap 20/53 Gasly comes in and so do Ricciardo, Ocon and De Vries. Ricciardo comes out still in front of Gasly but is now 13th.
Lap 19/53 Leclerc is driving nicely, setting another fastest lap as we see Hugh Grant, wearing a beige syoot. Whoops.
Lap 18/53 Leclerc sets a fastest lap time and Norris passes Alonso, while Magnussen is giving a penalty to leaving the track to get an advantage. Verstappen meanwhile, must be laughing his arse off, leading Russell by 7.474s and increasing the gap all the time.
Lap 17/53 Ferrari’s medium tyres aren’t massively helping them here, and Versatappen’s lead is such that they’ll likely need another safety car to catch him. Russell remains second, quietly driving another impressive race, though 6.4s off the lead.
Lap 16/53 Hmilton is making slow but steady progress, passing Ocon to take twelfth, and this season must be absolutely killing him.
Lap 15/53 Leclerc will have to drive six extra laps on his mediums because that’s how early he was brought in, taking the opportunity provided by the virtual safety car. He’s looking pretty good, 17s and change off the lead – he’ll expect to go in front when Verstappen stops.
Lap 14/53 Verstappen still leads…
9 De Vreis
Lap 13/53 Verstappen leads Russell by 4.769s with Leclerc a further 12.725 behind; Sainz races by Ricciardo into fourth, and the crowd enjoy the granny out of that.
Lap 12/53 Ferrari decide to take advantage of the situation, bringing their drivers in for a pit, then the virtual safety car departs and Leclerc comes out in third having got a cheap stop in.
Lap 11/53 Sainz nails Gasly, but Vettel has to retire with a mechanical issue and we get ourselves a virtual safety car. Leclerc won’t be delighted, but he leads by 2.039s, which isn’t bad at all.
Lap 11/53 Sainz diddles Norris on the inside at the chicane and what a race he’s having. However, though he’s close to Gasly in front, there’s a big gape between Russell, in third, and Ricciardo, in fourth.
Lap 10/53 The crowd go wild as Sainz’s Ferrari bousts by Alonso’s Alpine – he’s now seventh having started 18th, and the tifosi are already imagining a memorable day.
Lap 9/53 Sainz nails De Vries, who did well to hold out as long as he did, to take eighth, while Hamilton is now 15th. At the front, Verstappen is 1.527s behind Leclerc.
Lap 8/53 Verstappen is having his batteries charged and trails by just under two seconds he’ll be quicker again shortly, while Perez is in the pit-lane and something, probably his brakes, are overheating. He’s on hards to, the only driver who is, while Sainz, passing Zhou to go ninth, is on mediums.
Lap 7/53 There’s a DRS chain between Ricciardo, Gasly and Norris, in fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively, but no one can pull off an overtake. Sainz Jr, though, is worth paying attention to as he’s got some real pace and if things go well for him, he’ll finish way higher than tenth.
Lap 6/53 Leclerc still leads, but he’ll not have thought Verstappen would be so close to him so early on. Sainz Jr, meanwhile, who started 18th on the grid, have just nailed Stroll, who’s going backwards, to take tenth place … and Perez goes by Ocon to take 13th.
Lap 5/53 Verstappen is all over Russell and he ails him through the chicane; he’s 2.191s off the lead while Hamilton, 18.617s behind, is now 18th.
Lap 4/53 The top three are all on softs, and Verstappen is close enough to Russell to get DRS, just 0.216s behind. He is looking so, so good,
Lap 3/53 Looking at the start again, Leclerc did well to hold the line after Russell got away better, while Norris had a dreadful beginning. Anyhow, Hamilton might have a wheel-arch sitiuation – more on that as we get it.
8 De Vries
Lap 2/53 Verstappen is into third now, taking out Ricciardo, and Perez and Sainz clash. Hamilton is still 19th, and there’s actually been very little change from the starting grid.
Lap 1/53 Leclerc starts OK but Russell starts very well and they’re together, but Leclerc holds position and Verstappen is motoring! He’s fourth now, from seventh!
Leclerc slows everyone down, but those at the front are going to have to wait a bit for everyone else to get ready. That should get the nerves fizzing nicely as we race away…
Here comes the formation lap…
I can’t lie, I used to think Daniel Ricciardo would go on to greater things than so far. He starts fourth on the grid, his best position since this GP last term, and it’s about time he fulfilled his potential as a driver.
Most drivers will be stopping once, it’s thought, with mediums onto softs the most likely tyre usage.
Verstappen tells Sky that though he’s favourite, Ferrari are competitive this weekend – but P2 should be doable for him. He’s not here to break hearts but just to do the best he can, and though Red Bull don’t need to win, they want to win.
It’s a pretty nice day in Monza. The same is not so of North London.
Christian Horner thinks it’ll be hard to catch Ferrari today and won’t reveal his strategy, but says you’ve got to survive the first two chicanes, which funnel into a narrow piece of track; if Verstappen can do that, they’ll start thinking about overtaking. Verstappen is driving with maturity, he thinks, and notes that they don’t need to win this race, they just need to score nicely.
Charles Leclerc, meanwhile, says that he was happy with the lap that got him pole, and that he and Sainz Jr both went for pole to try and keep Verstappen as low as possible. He says “Max and Red Bull were on another planet in Spa,” but they’ve been working hard to find out why that was, and are in a good spot for this race.
Nyck de Vries, a late call-up for his first GP, tells us he’s changing his seating position and that he’s got some shoulder-bruises, but he doubts he’ll notice once we’re away. He affects proper confidence and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does, not just today but in the coming years.
We were talking about Hamilton having already started next season, but do we think he’ll still be at Mercedes then? I’m not sure where else he could go, but I can’t see him hanging around if he’s not certain things are going to get much better. I also wonder if, at some point, Mercedes plan for George Russell to be their number one driver...
“Esteban,” begins Gavin Herbert. “Not this?”
To my shame, I have not seen this picture, but promise to address that.
All these penalties will make for an unusual GP, I think. Generally speaking, it’s not easy to overtake at Monza, but with so much pace so low down, we could easily have three or four carving through the field.
Yes, I ought to have listed these below, so please forgive me. We need something to be done about this because it makes no sense to have qualifying and for things to change so much thereafter – anyone got any ideas? Anyhow:
Verstappen – Five-place grid penalty for power-unit component change
Ocon – Five-place grid penalty for power-unit component change
Perez – 10-place grid penalty for power-unit component change
Bottas – 15-place grid penalty due to multiple power-unit component changes
Magnussen – 15-place grid penalty due to multiple power-unit component changes
Schumacher – 15-place grid penalty due to power-unit component and gearbox changes
Hamilton – Start at back of grid due to multiple power-unit component changes
Sainz Jr – Start at back of grid due to multiple power-unit component changes (incurred twice), 10-place grid penalty for gearbox component changes
Tsunoda – Start at back of grid due to multiple power unit component changes, 10-place grid penalty for collecting five reprimands, three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags
There’ll be 336,000 people enjoying Monza this weekend. That is both brilliant and ridiculous.
I trust it’s not just me who thinks of this every time they seen the name Esteban.
1 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
2 George Russell (Mercedes)
3 Lando Norris (McLaren-Mercedes)
4 Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren-Mercedes)
5 Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri-Red Bull)
6 Fernando Alonso (Alpine-Renault)
7 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
8 Nyck de Vries (Williams-Mercedes)
9 Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)
10 Nicholas Latifi (Williams-Mercedes)
11 Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin-Mercedes)
12 Lance Stroll (Aston martin-Mercedes)
13 Sergio Pérez (Red Bull)
14 Esteban Ocon (Alpine-Renault)
15 Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)
16 Kevin Magnussen (Haas-Ferrari)
17 Mick Schumacher (Haas-Ferrari)
18 Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari)
19 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
20 Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri-Red Bull)
After all the chicanery and controversy of last’s season’s denouement, things have quietened down this season – but the outcome looks like being the same: Max Verstappen winning the world championship. He leads the driver standings by 109 points from Sergio Pérez and, though he begins today from seventh on the grid following a penalty for a power-unit change, has won our last two races from 10th and 14th; good luck everyone else.
The question, then, is whether Verstappen can go on to dominate, and though we won’t find that out any time soon, there’s plenty to entertain us in the meantime. Lewis Hamilton, still trying to sort his Mercedes, starts from the back row after multiple power-unit component changes, and has, in a sense, already started next season while, at the front, Charles Leclerc is under pressure to deliver for Ferrari and the tifosi and, behind him, George Russell is in the process of establishing himself as a serious force, likewise Lando Norris.
So, we’ve plenty to go on – of course we have – and the special Monza atmosphere, Il Canto degli Italiani and all, will be an absolute treat. Siiiiiiiiii!
Lights out: 3pm local, 2pm BST