Fans were left feeling short-changed after an anti-climactic end to the 2022 Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Charles Leclerc started on pole in front of the adoring Ferrari faithful in Monza, while Max Verstappen started the race seventh after taking an engine penalty.
The Dutchman took but a handful of laps to make it up to second, passing Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, George Russell and Lando Norris, who got a poor start.
Ferrari decided to box Leclerc under a Virtual Safety Car as Verstappen went deeper into the race on his Softs, and the reigning world champion’s stop brought him back out behind the Monegasque.
Verstappen then began rapidly closing the gap to the Ferrari, prompting the Italian team to pit their driver again, and this time he was the one on the hunt.
However, Red Bull’s impeccable race pace meant that Leclerc was not closing as quickly as he wanted, so he needed a Safety Car to catch Verstappen.
He got one when McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo stopped on track on lap 48, but it was an awkward place for the recovery vehicle to get to, so it took a while for the marshals to clear the Australian’s car.
In the end, race control ran out of laps to get the event back underway, so the grand prix finished behind the Safety Car, much to the annoyance of Leclerc during the penultimate lap.
It led to frustration on social media, with some fans wondering why a red flag was not deployed in order to ger the race finished under green flag conditions.
Others called it “illegitimate,” and others jokingly called for now former race director Michael Masi to return after his controversial decision in Abu Dhabi last year meant that there was one lap of racing at the end.
Verstappen won the race that night to claim the championship, and he has one hand on the championship trophy after victory in Monza on Sunday.
“We had a great race,” he explained after the race.
“On every compound, we were quickest, and the deg was very good, so we had a really good race car.
“And basically, I was just controlling the gap at the end, of course then the Safety Car came out.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get a restart but, overall, we had again a really good day.”
Christian Horner said after the race that there was “more than enough time” to get the race going at the end, but the Safety Car initially failed to pick up Verstappen, causing further delays.