Reigning World Champion Max Verstappen admitted to Carlos Sainz after the Italian Grand Prix that he “felt sorry” for the Spaniard, as Ferrari struggled to look after their tyres once again.
Sainz did well to lead the opening stages of Ferrari’s home race, having made a good launch off the line from pole position.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard, Verstappen also made a good start from second on the grid, a spot he maintained in the opening laps.
Sainz tried to get a second ahead of the two-time World Champion to get outside of DRS range; however, it was clear that the Red Bull driver was quicker.
Despite this, Verstappen seriously struggled to find a way past the 29-year-old, to the extent that the driver complained to Red Bull that Ferrari were too fast in a straight-line.
The championship leader knew his opportunity to take the lead would come though, as he also informed to the team over the radio that Sainz was struggling with his rear tyres.
Verstappen ultimately overtook Sainz on Lap 15 after the Spanish driver went deep at the opening corner, which saw him have a poor exit of the chicane.
It allowed the Dutchman to sweep around the outside at Curva Grande, before taking the lead of the race at Turn 4.
From that moment on, the race was completely in Verstappen’s control.
He went onto claim a 12th victory of 2023 and a record-breaking 10th consecutive win, to eclipse Sebastian Vettel’s record for most wins in a row.
It’s yet another record for Verstappen to add to his CV, although his immediate response in the cooldown room was to inform Sainz that he “felt sorry” for him due to his poor tyre wear.
“I felt sorry for you, you were sliding like crazy,” Verstappen said to Sainz in the cooldown room.
Sainz was also overtaken by Sergio Perez in the closing stages but did well to fend off Charles Leclerc, who was eager to claim the final spot on the rostrum in front of the Tifosi.
He revealed after the race that he was “pushing very hard” in the opening laps to try and maintain the lead; however, this ended up working against him and his tyres.
“It cannot get any tougher than what it was today,” Sainz said in his post-race interview.
“Honestly, the whole race I was pushing very hard to keep the Red Bulls behind. That made me use the rear tyres a lot, trying to keep up with them and trying to keep them behind. In the end, I ended up paying the price.
“Today it was obvious that we were wearing the tyres a bit more and we were lacking a bit of pace. But it was definitely a step forward compared to Zandvoort. This weekend we were best of the rest, which is a good result for the team given the circumstances.”