Ferrari had the pace to win the Italian Grand Prix, and with Charles Leclerc starting the race on pole position this should have been an easy win for the Scuderia. Verstappen qualified 3rd but dropped to 7th after picking up a grid penalty. One requires little imagination to assume Ferrari had the 2022 Italian GP in the bag come Sunday. But as I always say, Sunday is where the points are won and lost and in 2022 Sunday is where Max Verstappen wins. The Red Bull has become a mere appendage, a Sunday afternoon footnote.
Of the 16 races run thus far, Verstappen has won the last five races consecutively bringing his total this season to 11. Six races remain and it is more than possible Verstappen will win at least half of those, with all possibilities and scenarios considered. During the Italian GP, Verstappen quickly dispatched the roadblocks ahead of him to move into second by lap 5. A virtual safety car was called on lap 12 when the Aston Martin of Sebastian broke down.
Ferrari elected to pit Leclerc, but the timing wasn’t great so they did not gain much from doing so. Verstappen stayed out until lap 25 before pitting for tires and then picked up the task of reducing the 10-second deficit to himself and Leclerc like an Amazon delivery driver nailing all his/her daily targets. Eventually, Verstappen closed to within 5 seconds of Leclerc which prompted Ferrari to pit their race leader on lap 33.
Now on soft tyres Leclerc had 18 laps to chase down a 20-second deficit to Verstappen and fight it out for the win on hallowed ground. However, Verstappen was in no mood to surrender the lead that easily and simply used the pace of the Red Bull to keep the Ferrari threat at bay. The race ended under a full safety car period after the McLaren of Daniel Riccardo broke down on the main straight with five laps to go.
Did Ferrari give the race away? Certainly, Leclerc had the pace to win, however, the Red Bull appears to have the better race trim, but the secret sauce is Max Verstappen. It doesn’t matter how good the car is relative to the rest of the field, the driver and team still have to deliver and Verstappen keeps on delivering with sentient AI precision every weekend right now wherever he starts.
2022 Italian Grand Prix Results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:20:27.511
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari + 2.446
3 George Russell Mercedes + 3.405
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari + 5.061
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 5.380
6 Sergio Perez Red Bull + 6.091
7 Lando Norris McLaren + 6.207
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri + 6.396
9 Nyck de Vries Williams + 7.122
10 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Racing + 7.910
11 Esteban Ocon Alpine + 8.323
12 Mick Schumacher Haas + 8.549
13 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Racing + 1 LAP
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri + 1 LAP
15 Nicholas Latifi Williams + 1 LAP
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas + 1 LAP
R Daniel Ricciardo McLaren
R Fernando Alonso Alpine
R Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin
R Lance Stroll Aston Martin