Despite having started seventh, Max Verstappen once again stormed to victory, this time at last weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
It was his first time standing on the top step at the ‘Temple of Speed’; however, as a result of winning at Monza he now leads Charles Leclerc by 116 points in the Drivers’ Championship.
The reigning World Champion is on the verge of retaining his 2021 title, with the Dutchman having his first shot at sealing the crown at the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix.
Verstappen eventually cruised to victory at Monza, after taking the actual lead of the race on Lap 34.
The Dutchman did quite literally crawl across the line to claim his fifth consecutive victory, as the race disappointingly ended behind a Safety Car.
The Safety Car finish came as a result of Daniel Ricciardo pulling off the circuit between the two Lesmos on Lap 47/53.
Unfortunately, Ricciardo’s MCL36 took much longer for the marshals to clear than expected, after it was revealed that the stricken McLaren was stuck in gear.
Due to it being stuck in gear, a tractor was required to safely remove the Australian’s car, which wasn’t removed into a safe place until the penultimate lap of the race.
This meant the race director, Niels Wittich, had insufficient time to get the race underway again, something which was met by a wave of boos from the Tifosi.
Verstappen has somewhat jumped to the defence of Wittich, who followed the rulebook to a tee, with the Dutchman admitting that whilst it was “very unfortunate”, the marshals and the race director “just run out of time”.
“From what I understood, the car was stuck in gear and that’s why it took so long,” said Verstappen.
“Because, of course, when the car’s parked there, there is no gap where you can push the car into, compared to some other places.
“That’s why the crane had to come and that’s why I guess they just run out of time. So, I guess it was very unfortunate.
“Normally, I think everyone wants to finish under green flag. But yeah, unfortunately, we were just short of laps.”
The Tifosi were especially unhappy as Leclerc pitted for Soft tyres, in the hope that the race would be restarted.
Despite this, Verstappen revealed that he “was not too worried” if the race had gotten back underway, after having a new set of Soft tyres himself.
“I had new softs as well so I was not too worried,” added the 24-year-old.
“I mean, even if it was one lap shootout.
“We ran out of laps, they needed to extend the race but that’s not possible.”