Ferrari had the faster car for one lap, Red Bull for the distance. Max Verstappen appeared early behind Charles Leclerc and defeated him via better tire management. A final under safety car was the second mood killer for the Ferrari fans.
Max Verstappen rushes from victory to victory. No matter from which position he starts. In Hungary he raced from tenth place to success, in Belgium from 14th place and in Italy from seventh position. The reward was the eleventh win of the season and the 31st win of the career. In our race analysis, we clarify the most important questions about the Monza race.
Did the safety car deprive Ferrari of a chance to win?
The Tifosi in the grandstands felt like they were screwed. They dreamed of an Abu Dhabi-style scenario with late race clearance, but were severely disappointed. Race director Niels Wittich left the safety car out until the bitter end. The Italian fans acknowledged it with loud boos. Max Verstappen chugged across the finish line in front of Charles Leclerc and clinched the eleventh win of the season.
Formula 1 management is said to have been upset about the decision to end the race under safety car. The FIA justified itself. Safety first. No one can choose when an incident requiring a safety car occurs. In this case McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo had parked his car on the inside between the Lesmo corners. Presumably an oil leak forced him to retire.
The gearbox was stuck in a gear. The marshals could not force the transmission into neutral to roll the McLaren into a supply lane. "With the problem, delays in the process are understandable," said Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto. "But from our point of view, the race management has waited too long to organize the field for a possible restart."
The race control sent Bernd Mayländer onto the track on the 47th lap. The safety car first caught George Russell, who was third, and not the leader, Verstappen. It took two laps before the Mercedes driver received the signal to drive past with his entourage. So long the field was divided. Verstappen and Charles Leclerc formed the other group - with the lapped Valtteri Bottas and Yuki Tsunoda between them.
The race organizers justified the late overtaking clearance by saying that the recovery crane first had to cross the track. Nobody had been inside behind the crash barrier. The FIA played the safe card. The drivers have to drive slowly under the safety car, but they don't want to take any risks. Stopping the race was out of the question because the rules didn't allow it. The route was not blocked.
By the time the field was sorted, the time had expired so that those who were lapped - in contrast to Abu Dhabi - lap back properly.This created an extremely unfortunate situation with which no one was satisfied. Even Red Bull would have liked a restart. "Max had fresh, soft tyres, Leclerc only used them. We would have won like that," says team boss Christian Horner. Binotto agreed. "We would hardly have beaten Verstappen even in a short sprint."
How did Ferrari tactic?
The red car was faster in qualifying. Verstappen held all the trumps in his hand over the distance. Drivers and engineers tuned the RB18 to preserve the tires. A larger rear wing was strapped on for this. Ferrari did the opposite and went for maximum speed.
But Leclerc caught up with the problem of the last races early on. The Ferrari is pushing the tires too hard. The front tires buckled early in the first stint. Verstappen appeared behind him after just five laps and steadily shortened. His Red Bull was calmer in the corners. This protected the tires at asphalt temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.
The VSC on lap 12 came at the right time for Ferrari. "Verstappen was faster. We had to do something differently to even have a chance." Bad luck: Wittich released the race again when Leclerc was changing tires. So he only had a half advantage under VSC. "Five to seven seconds less than usual," calculated Red Bull.
Red Bull just did the opposite of Ferrari and kept Verstappen out for a long first stint on the softs. At the same time, one was surprised that the opponent had brought up the mediums and thus a two-stop race was guaranteed. "We would have taken the hard ones to get to the end." Binotto justifies: "Two stops weren't wrong. You never know how the tires will hold up at Verstappen and whether a late safety car will help. That was a poker game that could have worked." Didn't. Red Bull was stronger on all mixes and at all times. Minimum three tenths per round.
How did Sainz, Hamilton and Perez get ahead?
George Russell drove a lonely race in third place. With no prospect ahead or danger from behind. Behind him, three drivers ended up having to plow their way through the field after engine penalties. Carlos Sainz, who started from 18th place. Lewis Hamilton, who came from 19th place. And Sergio Perez, who had it a bit easier as 13th in the grid, but saw the checkered flag behind both.
Sainz stabbed through the field in the early stages thanks to a small rear wing. After 13 laps he was already fourth when Hamilton had only moved up to 13th place. So the Spaniard set the course early in his Ferrari. He waited until the 30th lap with the first stop, came out before midfield and caught Perez straight away.
Hamilton's race to catch up was more difficult because his Mercedes lacked top speed. The car had to be set too high because of the bumps.Despite the mini wing, the Mercedes builds up too much air resistance. A long first part of the race up to lap 33 and only one stop paid off. "Fifth place was the best possible result. Lewis got it," summed up Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Perez didn't make any progress at all at first, and on top of that caught a flat tire on the starting tire. That forced him to switch to the hard compound as early as lap seven. That wasn't so bad for the Mexican, though, because it put him out of business. The stop for soft tires on lap 42 cost him the place against Hamilton - and against Lando Norris. McLaren gave it back. Perez managed the fastest lap on the soft compound.
Where did McLaren gamble?
During the safety car. Actually, Norris would have finished sixth. But McLaren brought him back to change tires on softs. Verstappen, Leclerc, Russell and Sainz were able to visit the pits under the safety car without losing space. Kevin Magnussen, Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi risk it. But the McLaren strategists gambled away. You couldn't have guessed that the safety car would stay out until the end.
Team boss Andreas Seidl explains the strategy: "Without a stop, Perez would have caught us at a restart with the help of the slipstream. We were sure that he and Hamilton would stay out. So we wanted to turn it around, and with fresher tires the two ended up overtake."
How did Nyck de Vries master his first race?
This performance should put Nyck de Vries on pole for the second cockpit at Williams 2023. Here he was named in the draw with Logan Sargeant before the race weekend, but he still lacks the points for the super license.
De Vries excelled and was voted driver of the race. "I think my pace was pretty good. I'm grateful for the chance and I grabbed it with both hands." The Dutchman was mostly on a DRS train with Daniel Ricciardo, Pierre Gasly and Guanyu Zhou. With the right tactics he scored two points. The fact that he braked too hard under the safety car and Zhou almost ran into him was punished with a warning. Williams team boss Jost Capito said before the race: "Nyck doesn't surprise me. I've known him for a long time and I know how good he is."