Max Verstappen (Red Bull) has performed another one of his comebacks to win the Italian F1 GP 2022, which has finished behind the safety car. Powerless before the superiority of the Dutch driver, poleman Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) and George Russell (Mercedes) completed the podium. This was the young Briton’s seventh podium of the season.
Ferrari´s Carlos Sainz has also delighted fans with a remarkable fourteen-places climb up the track to finish in fourth. On this occasion, Ferrari’s pit stops and overall strategy were faultless.
The local team tried to make up for their inferiority by changing plans from one to two stops with Leclerc. Winning still proved to be an impossible task.
The current champion, on the other hand, has taken his eleventh victory of the season (Saudi Arabia, Emilia-Romagna, Miami, Spain, Azerbaijan, Canada, France, Hungary, Belgium & Holland), fith in a row, getting ever closer to the title and demonstrating once again that he has no match. He leads the standings 116 poins ahead of Leclerc, second.
Leclerc holds on to the pole at the start
Leclerc and Russell have maintained the first and second places from which they started at the beginning of the Italian GP 2022. At the same time, Daniel Ricciardo jumped from fourth to third place. Verstappen, for his part, progressed from seventh to fifth place over the first few meters.
After the fifth lap, Max passed Russell for second. In just four laps, the Flying Dutchman had come within two seconds of race leader Leclerc. Shortly after, the Italian GP 2022 stabilized. Leclerc was still in the lead, 1.6 seconds ahead of Max, while Russell was running in third, four seconds behind the latter.
Leclerc pits during virtual safety car period
In the next lap (12), a mechanical fault in Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin triggered a virtual safety car period. Leclerc took advantage of the situation to replace his soft compounds with medium ones.
The manoeuvre, so early on, took everyone by surprise, and nobody followed suit. It was then that Verstappen inherited the lead. Both rivals were now running 16 seconds apart.
In an attempt to compensate for the slower pace of their F1-75, La Scuderia had changed its strategy from one to two pit stops. Verstappen’s great superiority allowed him to extend his stint until lap 26, to replace his soft tires with medium ones.
After his pit stop (2.4 seconds), he re-joined the race 9 seconds behind Leclerc, leader on medium tires, followed by Sainz third, who had yet to make his first stop.
Verstappen hunts Leclerc down
Verstappen then sat a relentless pace to reduce his disadvantage with Leclerc to 4.9 seconds. Seeing his lead rapidly shrinking, the young Monegasque made a second pit stop (2.6 seconds) on lap number 34. From that moment on, the Ferrari driver had to recover 19.675 seconds from Max in 18 laps. Third, at almost three seconds behind was Russell.
Despite Ferrari’s desperate but courageous move, the quest to win the Italian F1 GP was a lost cause. Leclerc was barely able to get close to Verstappen despite his new soft tires. They were still 18.4 seconds apart on lap 41 with Russell still in third, nine seconds behind Leclerc.
Safety car and controversial ending
The only exciting development during the final stages (lap 48) was the arrival of another safety car, caused by Daniel Ricciardo. Max and Leclerc took the opportunity to make two fleeting visits to pits to mount soft tires, taking 2.7 and 2.3 seconds respectively.
As cars regrouped on the track, it seemed that fortune was going to grant Leclerc one last chance. But it was not to be. The slow arrival of the crane to remove the damaged McLaren prevented a final duel between the two protagonists of the 2022 Italian GP and the World Championship.
The single-seaters crossed the finish line behind the safety car, amidst the whistles of the Tifosi. The decision was hard to swallow considering the orange car had retired one lap earlier.
Images of Italian F1 GP 2022