Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monza, 2022

Verstappen beats Leclerc to Monza win as race ends behind Safety Car

2022 Italian Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza ahead of Charles Leclerc as the race ended behind the Safety Car.

Having started from seventh on the grid, Verstappen made his way to the front using a one stop strategy to beat the Ferrari of Leclerc as the race ended with six laps behind the Safety Car. George Russell finished third for Mercedes, with Carlos Sainz Jnr taking fourth having started from 18th on the grid.

When the lights went out, Leclerc led away down to the Rettifilo chicane but came under pressure from Russell’s Mercedes around the outside. Russell took to the inside runoff at the chicane and hopped over the kerbs to move into the lead, but immediately yielded his illegitimate position back to Leclerc. Behind, Verstappen gained three places on the opening lap, then passed Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren to move into third on the second lap.

By the fourth lap, Verstappen was well inside DRS range of Russell in second. Verstappen slipstreamed the Mercedes down the pit straight at the start of lap five and pulled to the inside under braking of the Rettifilo chicane to take the place. Having started from near the back, Sergio Perez was the first to pit at the end of lap seven, but rejoined with flames licking from his right-front brakes. However, he continued on his way on his hard tyres with Red Bull choosing not to pit him again.

As the three leaders pulled away, fourth-placed Daniel Ricciardo became the cork in the bottle as the field followed behind the McLaren. Sebastian Vettel pulled off the circuit at the exit of the second Lesmo with a smoking Aston Martin, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car. Ferrari pitted the leader for medium tyres under the VSC, which ended on his way out of the pit lane. Fortunately, he managed to rejoin just ahead of Russell and the train to retain third position as Verstappen inherited the lead.

Having started from 18th place, Carlos Sainz Jnr eventually passed Ricciardo to move up into fourth behind his team mate soon after the race resumed. With clean air and fresh tyres, Leclerc began steadily catching Russell ahead of him, while Verstappen pulled out a gap of ten seconds over the Mercedes behind.

Russell was the first of the leaders to pit at the end of lap 23, switching to the hard tyres and rejoining behind the two Ferraris in fourth place with Sainz yet to stop. Verstappen followed suit two laps later, but switched to mediums, allowing Leclerc to move back into the lead. Verstappen emerged with a 10 second deficit to the Ferrari, but with 14 lap younger tyres than the leader.

Verstappen began to eat away into Leclerc’s advantage. When it was almost at five seconds, Ferrari called the leader in at the end of lap 33 for soft tyres for the final 19 laps. Leclerc emerged just ahead of Russell to hold second place, but with a second a lap to make up on Verstappen in order to catch the leader.

Race start, Monza, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Italian Grand Prix in pictures
Despite switching to theoretically quicker tyres, Leclerc struggled to make any gains on the leader as Verstappen went even faster out front. The Red Bull driver remained comfortable out front and appeared to be on course for victory, until Ricciardo suddenly pulled off to the side of the road between the two Lesmos, bringing out a late Safety Car on lap 48.

All four front runners pitted at the reduced speed for soft tyres, keeping their positions. Despite six laps behind the Safety Car, Ricciardo’s car was only cleared with two laps remaining. With some of the field still recovering to the back of the Safety Car queue and some lapped cars still between Verstappen and Leclerc, the race finished under Safety Car.

Verstappen therefore took the chequered flag to claim his fifth consecutive victory, with Leclerc second and expressing his frustration that the race was not resumed. Russell completed the podium in third, ahead of Sainz and Lewis Hamilton in fifth.

Perez finished sixth, ahead of Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly in eighth. Debutante Nyck de Vries finished ninth to score points in his first grand prix ahead of Zhou Guanyu, however a bizarre incident where De Vries appeared to slow down suddenly at Curva Grande behind the Safety Car, causing Zhou to slam on his brakes, has been noted by the stewards.

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2022 Italian Grand Prix reaction

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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50 comments on “Verstappen beats Leclerc to Monza win as race ends behind Safety Car”

  1. If Williams don’t sign De Vries to a race seat next year they are crazy. What a great race from the lad.

    1. Absolutely, he was quite astonishing to watch.

    2. For those who follow feeder series is pretty clear that you need to be really good to win F2. Even in DeVries case against one of the weaker grids in recent years.

    3. @sjaakfoo if anything it proves that there are too many seat blockers who should not be on the grid that have overstayed their welcome in F1. latifi got into F1 due to billion daddy and entering just before the superlicence system was made more strict to filter out drivers like him, its shocking that Colton Herta cant ‘officially’ race in F1 due to lack of enough superlicence points.

      Logic suggests that williams new owners know the car is a top 10 finisher and latifi finishing 18th is costing them valuable championship points and prizemoney at the end of the season, they know that they are losing MORE money due to this than what he brings in pay driver funds from daddy.

      TL;DR Williams have a car with a good foundation to work from but the current talentless pay drivers are not maximising the cars potential.
      Felipe Drugovich and Nyck de Vries would be a perfect partnership for 2023

  2. So races can end behind safety cars. I thought it’s “car racing”.

    1. It wasn’t a motor race at the finish.
      That’s why the crowd were so dissatisfied. They paid to see a race.

      1. Sunday evening I received a text message from a friend who had spent a minor fortune on travel, accommodation and tickets to fullfill his teenage son’s greatest wish: to see an F1 race at Monza. Only words in the text? Please, bring back Masi!

        [intended as light entertainment, not to reopen a dreary debate about events almost a year ago]

    2. I was expecting Last year finale.. the situation was 100% copy. But here no one forced Controller to “let them race”

    3. Indeed. This is exactly how abu Dhabi should have ended rather than the farce that we saw. I don’t think it would have been fair to have a red flag either as the cars had battled to get to that point and managed their tyres as they expected to etc. However it would be nice to see Horner and Max admitting this rather than Horner’s strange excuse for why this was fine and so was Abu Dhabi.

      1. Horner also said it was a shame they had to finish under the safety car. So you got what you asked for 👍🏼

    4. Masi is no longer race director?

    5. Lewis did say himself though he benefitted from finishing behind the SC today… surely the Lewis fans have nothing to complain about?

      1. Sikhumbuzo Khumalo
        11th September 2022, 22:23

        Which Lewis fan is complaining? Why Lewis fans why not Perez fans or Sainz fans or George Russel fans?

  3. Ferrari’s strategy attempts were okay, but ultimately were insufficient for the win.
    De Vries deserved DOTD honor.

    1. @jerejj
      You might argue that in hindsight the decision to pit under the VSC looks wrong but Ferrari did run in practise sessions in almost the exact same conditions, so they have at least an idea about the tyre behaviour. The difference between the softs and mediums was small as seen during the opening stint and the soft by Ferrari’s own admission was behaving better than expected (1 tenth faster).

      Besides, Verstappen in Monza was mighty in sector 2 and lacked top speed compared to Leclerc. The only scenario where Leclerc has a chance to fight Max is to be in front just like in 2019 with Hamilton and try to fend off his attacks. Giving up the lead that earlier in the race was going to put Ferrari in tyre trouble at the end of the race. Monza in normal conditions and with reasonable tyres degradation is always a 1-stop race. 6 corners a lap are just not enough to compensate the loss of ~25 seconds in a race stint.

      Ferrari tried to look clever and changed something in their racing operations. The pitstops were well executed and they didn’t wait for the opposition to react like always but they still didn’t make the right choice.

    2. True, but the car isn’t really up to the job (anymore) either. Between the top 3 cars, they’re the only one getting worse in race trim. Pretty sure VER was more like cruising behind LEC in the 1st part, knowing everything will be taken care after the pit-stops.

  4. Correct call by stewards to end this under the safety car. Does not matter how boring it was, but I am still worried that they had taken too long to decide the deployment of a safety car. Not much to talk about besides Verstappen and De Vries doing a great job. Pretty chilled race.

  5. If a SC or VSC is required and there are 5 laps or fewer left, the race should be red-flagged.

    The obstacle can then be cleared and we get racing from the grid for however many laps are left.

    “It’s called a motor race.”

    1. But .. but how would a red flag and a restart give an advantage to my personal favorite driver? This idea won’t be popular here, it would tend make the race fairer.

    2. I also want to see races finish while racing, but any form of red flag / Safety car is always going to advantage some and disadvantage others, so fans are going to be disgruntled no matter what happens. Under a red flag or SC, any driver who has built up an advantage through fair and square race performance, suddenly looses that advantage and others that have not faired as well are suddenly back in the game. There is no possible solution here that will be non impacting for or against. So there are rules for these incidents and those rules are applied, if someone losses out or someone gains, hopefully that will even out over time. There is no other solution.
      Massi tried to address it last year by letting them race = A whole lot of unhappy fans;
      Yesterday they did it this way = A whole lot of unhappy fans;
      A Red Flag restart, someone would be disadvantaged = A whole lot of unhappy fans.

      1. 1. Scrap SC/VSC.
        2. Use double-waved yellow flags in the first instance.
        3. If double-waved yellows in not appropriate, red flag the race.
        4. All cars return to the pits.
        5. Teams are not allowed to change tyres whilst under red flag conditions.
        6. Restart the race from the grid, using the positions the drivers were in when the red flag was triggered.

  6. If there is no time to restart the race in normal conditions then it’s fair that it ends behind the SC. I’m wondering why it took so long to deploy the SC which is deployed in case there is a dangerous situation on the track that prevents the race from continuing even under double yellow flag ?

    Why it took so long to authorize the crane to enter the circuit to collect the Ricciardo’s car ? The crane operator normally enters the track after an instruction is issued by race direction. 6 laps in a long circuit like Monza are more than enough for the SC to deploy and Ricciardo’s car to be collected and the racing to resume without breaching the rules.

    Whoever was running the race was more concerned about not losing his job. I’ve already predicted that Masi will be missed…

    1. Initially the marshals though they would be able to move the car, turned out they could not, so the crane was only deployed after that had been tried.

  7. For me, the way F1 manages these kind of incidents is the problem. This incident could have been managed simply with double yellow flags, without the need for sc, vsc or indeed red flag.
    I have been watching F1 from long before they introduced the SC in the early 2000’s.
    In those times a car like Dr’s today would have been managed with yellows and the car left where it was. The drivers all drove past it at least once under yellows today and knew exactly where it was. They are the best drivers in the world and can easily avoid a parked car well off the racing line.
    Since JB’s tragic accident, we see many more red flags, SC’s and vsc’s (although much fewer red flags since Masi departed). The other precedent is that drivers are no longer trusted not to avoid obstacles even when they are off the track under yellows or even vsc.
    I do understand if marshall enter the track or recovery vehicles they do need protecting, repair of barriers etc, but for me this was just unnecessary today.
    Litigation fear is the driver for this.
    At least the fairness of the result was maintained on this occasion.
    My main objection to sc/red flag is that it is unfair. Almost always someone gains and someone loses with sc or red flag and that might make a good show but is not sporting.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      11th September 2022, 17:33

      “Since JB’s tragic accident” (…)

      May I ask: do you think it was sporting for Collins to give Fangio the car for him to win the 1956 title?

      1. Difficult to say, I was not alive then, so I cannot judge. I will say I like the principles of sportsmanship Collins demonstrated, but was not entirely fair play.

  8. Even despite late safety car shenanigans (which are hard to blame on anyone since several factors might have met – the lead of the race pitting and letting the safety car wait for them longer, but still I think Bernd Mayländer could have done a better job), I think Ferrari threw away the chance to fight Verstappen in this race. They relied too much on external factors, had no pace for so many laps on the softs, and had they not pitted and raced in second, they could have the same chance to challenge Verstappen at the end (safety car-permitting). I think Verstappen could struggle behind Leclerc for a few laps and could worsen the condition of his tires. This feels a bit like being afraid of being humiliated during the fight for the lead, and they rather wanted to make it seem as if they had a plan – which they frankly didn’t, knowing Verstappen’s great work with tires.

    By the way, if my calculations are correct, Verstappen already had a chance to clinch the title in Singapore. He needs to win while Leclerc must not finish better than 9th and Perez than 5th.

    1. And Sainz – what a drive. I wonder how he could change the outcome of the race had he started at the front and Ferrari had him there to create more pressure on Verstappen. I think he could win some of the remaining six races with a pace like this.

      1. He was good, but not that good. He started behind and raced against slower cars. Once he got behind RUS, his recovery stopped. He didn’t seem able to reduce the gap to RUS even when RUS was on Hards. My bet still is on LEC. Just look how SAI seemed to have the upper hand all sessions until Q3… when LEC came on top when it really mattered and beat him by a significant margin… again.

        1. Sainz was actually looking like the only one of the 3 on softs (others being hamilton and leclerc) who looked to be in with a chance in the end of the race to pass the driver he was chasing (russell), shame for the SC.

      2. Carlos Sainz should have pitted earlier, he was losing almost a sec per lap. Otherwise, no big tactical mistakes from the Ferrari pitwall, there was no way they could beat MV, even though Charles got lucky with the short VSC period, as he was ahead he was the only one who got 10 free seconds for the pitstop.

        Ultimately the fault with the Sainz pace is shared, Fezza did not call him but also (AFAIK) he never asked. And Carlos usually does take the initiative when he sees fit, but not this time.

        1. @hyoko:
          It was reported he did question the strategy. He was asking why they were extending the stint when all he was doing was losing time.

  9. I think they should form a single big team to manage situations like these on every race so as to act on a set standard for every event.

    Every time they call a SC everything feels on the brink of disarray.

    The time it took for the SC to actually come out was a bad joke.

  10. A race ending under a SC is never ideal but that’s just the way it goes sometimes & it’s not something I have an issue with TBH.

    I’m not a big fan of throwing red flags late on just to get a dozen lap shootout as I don’t like how that turns the end into a bit more of a lottery, Especially at a track like this where accidents on starts isn’t that uncommon. It’s a Grand Prix of 53 laps & not a 3-4 lap shootout.

    The purpose of a red flag just like the Safety Car & VSC is safety & these things should only ever be used when they are necessary from a safety perspective. There was no valid safety reason for a red flag at the end as the stopped car was easily recoverable under a SC. For me you don’t need & shouldn’t use a red flag unless there has been a major accident or if the track is blocked, Littered with debris or if a barrier has been damaged.

    Using the red flag or a safety car for that matter purely for ‘the show’ isn’t how they should be used.

    1. @stefmeister – You are 100% on the money. The complaints here are either just people saying they prefer a racing finish (Which is obvious and kinda mute) or they are just unhappy that their guy did not get the advantage that a Red Flag or SC restart would have created. These folk are not here to talk sense.

  11. Not how I wanted it to end but no issues at all with the processes.

    If a race has to end behind a safety car, so be it. Like car or tyre failures, sometimes that sort of thing happens in a car race. That’s motor racing, not messing around with red flags and playing with the rules for the sake of ‘the show’.

  12. Race was a complete disgrace but the canned cheers pumped in over the live feed post race to cover up the loud boo’s from the angry fans is probably on of the most pathetic gaslighting gestures made by FOM

  13. I am curious as to how the driver’s championship behind Verstappen shapes up. There is a high probability that Russel could end up second third ahead of Perez based on consistency. If Ferrari/Leclerc makes more mistake, it may even be second place.

    1. Based on current form on track Perez would be sixth. He’s just not that good atm.
      Sainz and Hamilton had very eventful seasons to get closer and the top 6 being so far ahead with Verstappen winning every race means there’s never anyone making big gains on the others. There’s just 10 points difference between 2nd and 6th.

  14. And Norris showed how to get through turn 1 together with Gasly

  15. I think it’s very fair to say that Albon & De Vries would be a very good lineup and this may very well be Latifi’s last season in F1.

  16. The only way to even have a chance at beating VER this year is to do 1 less pit stop with no one getting a SC pit stop.

    1. Yup.. He now looks and feels almost exactly like Schumacher at Ferrari.

      Every strategy, seems to result in Verstappen win.

      Penalty, suboptimal strategy, loosing pole, starting from the back..

      5 win in a row easy.

      I find it saddly booring. That RedBull is a well oiled machine. Verstappen just exercising his greatness lap after lap.

      I hope for some change, otherwise there will be years of domination.

      1. Verstappen has certainly been very solid for a few years now, and I’m sure his championship has made him a tad more composed. But in terms of time, I doubt it really makes much of difference? Maybe a tiny bit at most.

        Unfortunately, the car and engine are just that much better than the rest. They have no real weakness. They’re sometimes a bit behind Ferrari in qualifying, but nobody cares about one lap pace these days. Or rather, shouldn’t as it’s meaningless when the races are usually an exercise in tyre management.

        The rest of the field dropped the ball. Pretty poor considering they collectively spend about a billion dollars on this year’s cars.

  17. I think that if you get a full SC within, say, two laps of the end, maybe they should just wave the chequered flag at that point. However, if it is, say, between four and eight laps left, maybe they should consider red flagging the race immediately, line up the cars in the right order, no tyre changes allowed unless cars go into the pits and restart from the pit lane, and then do the opening lap of the restart under SC, so that the race restarts at the end of that lap. It still isn’t ideal, but would be better than what we saw today.

  18. There was a crane JCB thing on the track, before the SC had the race leader and everything was under control. It should have been a red flag. F1 hasn’t learned a thing from past mistakes.

  19. I can see some logic behind the red flag argument in a case like this. But to avoid compromising the advantage any cars had built up, why not use a time weighted average like at Suzuka 1994?

  20. Any Safety car or Red Flag restart is unfair. It always takes away any advantage that a driver has fairly built up over the race laps so far. There is little option but to have Safety cars and Restarts, but they are ultimately synthetic and disadvantage / advantage someone out there. The only fair rare is one the goes start to finish without intervention.

  21. Also interesting how McLaren deliberately strategized to get Norris ahead of Ricardo and then even asked Ricardo to help him.

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