Max Verstappen stormed from seventh to first at the Italian Grand Prix, to claim his first ever victory at the ‘Temple of Speed’.
The reigning World Champion won the race arguably with ease, with Charles Leclerc unable to do anything about the Red Bull driver’s relentless pace.
Verstappen’s fifth consecutive victory has put the championship leader on the verge of a second consecutive title, with the 24-year-old now 116 points ahead of Leclerc.
The Dutchman could win the title at the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks; however, it’s more likely that he’ll clinch the crown at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Tifosi were far from pleased with Verstappen claiming victory, after making their feelings known with a wave of boos.
The boos weren’t just aimed at Verstappen, with it also being directed at the race director for finishing the race behind the Safety Car.
With only a few laps remaining, Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race at the side of the circuit; a Safety Car was needed so that Ricciardo’s car could be recovered safely.
However, the recovery took far too long to resume racing, with the Australian’s car having been stuck in gear.
Unlike the 2021 season finale, the rulebook was actually followed to a tee, but teams have voiced their frustration in the race not being red-flagged, and therefore restarted.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is adamant that he doesn’t want “to win a race” behind the SC, and that the director ultimately made a mess of the situation.
“We don’t want to win a race under a Safety Car,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for many many years, that they should finish racing.
“There was enough time to get that race going. I think they picked up the wrong cars, picked up George Russell,” he insisted.
Horner believes that Verstappen would’ve still claimed yet another victory even if racing had gotten back underway, with the Brit admitting that the fans were unfortunately the “biggest losers”.
“We had the faster car, we would have liked to win the race on the track, not behind the Safety Car.
“We share the disappointment of all the fans, because it took away a grandstand finish,” he added.
“It goes against the principles of what we’ve discussed previously.
“The biggest losers were the fans. We need to look quickly to address that,” the Briton continued. “I think they had more than enough time to get going.
“We need to go through details, but for me there was enough time, we had a car that wasn’t in a barrier, it was just by the side of the track,” he pointed out.
Whilst Verstappen cruised to the top step, team-mate Sergio Pérez ended up finishing in sixth place, after arguably having his race ruined somewhat by an early pit-stop.
The early stop caused further issues for the Mexican, whose front-right brake seemingly caught fire.
It did eventually go out down one of Monza’s straights, where the Red Bull driver then worked his way back through the field from last.
“Checo had to pit early because there was a flat spot, a lot of vibration, then a bit of debris got into the ducts which caused a small fire, but his recovery from there was great,” said Horner.
“Fastest lap for Checo too so important points for him and the team.”
Verstappen has been in a league of his own virtually all season, with the Dutchman managing to be faster than Leclerc on old Medium tyres, whilst the Monegasque was on Softs.
Verstappen and Red Bull are all but certain to claim the titles, with the team performing at “such a high level all season”.
“Max was yet again so impressive, even if they had the fastest car, I’m not sure if anyone could stop Max today,” Horner went on.
“The whole team has been performing at such a high level all season and our performance all weekend has been brilliant.
“We know we compromised quali slightly yesterday but it paid off.
“More challenges lie ahead with Singapore and beyond so we look forward to that.
“Ultimately it was a sombre race for obvious reasons but we are happy we could bring home the win with Her Majesty’s insignia on the nose of the car and we dedicate the victory to the life and memory of HRH, Queen Elizabeth II,” Horner concluded.