Ten-in-a-row for Verstappen? Six talking points for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Just one week after Max Verstappen had the privilege of over 100,000 fans passionately cheering him on to victory at Zandvoort, he will have a circuit full of people hoping he will finally be beaten during the Italian Grand Prix at Monza – ideally by one of the Ferraris.

But if Verstappen disappoints the Tifosi by taking yet another win on Sunday, it will be a historic moment for the sport as Verstappen once again does something no F1 driver has ever done before.

Here are the talking points for the Italian Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s perfect ten

Max Verstappen is well used to making history in Formula 1. Indeed, from his very first laps in a Formula 1 car less than a decade ago to the first time he competed in a grand prix to his first win, Verstappen has been setting records at a remarkable rate.

Last season, Verstappen not only won his second consecutive world championship title, he also set an all-time record for the most race victories by a driver in a single season. As impressive as that achievement was, it came with the caveat that modern F1 calendars are as long as they’ve ever been.

But the Formula 1 record for consecutive grand prix victories – the nine Verstappen equalled last weekend – has stood for 70 years, established by Alberto Ascari. His run of nine wins was interrupted by one race he did not enter, the 1953 Indianapolis 500, then a points-paying world championship round.

Prior to last weekend, only one driver had won nine races in a row without any breaks or interruptions – Sebastian Vettel. Now Verstappen sits alongside Vettel as a joint record holder, with an extremely strong chance to go one better than his fellow Red Bull world champion. As much as fans may bemoan Verstappen’s stranglehold over the sport, it’s undeniable that 10 straight wins would be a truly special achievement.

Can Ferrari find form?

Ferrari's livery for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix
Ferrari’s special livery for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix
After 2022 started off for well for Ferrari, there has not been much for their passionate supporter base in Italy to celebrate through the first 13 rounds of the 2023 season.

With Red Bull continuing to monopolise the top step of the podium, Ferrari arrive at Monza without a victory to their name for the third time in the last four seasons. While the team naturally want to win this weekend, Red Bull’s performance advantage coupled with Verstappen’s unassailable form this season renders that unlikely. But Ferrari could be Red Bull’s closest competitors.

In the fight behind the Red Bulls, Ferrari have been strongest at circuits with long straights with corners that require good traction on exit to achieve the best lap time. Circuits like Baku, Montreal (had they not made a hash of qualifying) and Spa-Francorchamps. At the latter Charles Leclerc was the first driver to take the chequered flag behind the Red Bull pair. With Monza being the fastest circuit on the calendar, featuring plenty of traction zones, both Leclerc and team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr will be looking for a strong showing in front of the Tifosi.

“Monza is always special for us, to feel the support,” Leclerc said after last weekend’s race. “I’m looking forward to it because it’s been a difficult season until now.”

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What is Lawson truly capable of?

Lawson will have a full weekend in the car this time
Daniel Ricciardo could not wait to get back into the cockpit after the summer break to kick off his F1 return with AlphaTauri in earnest after two back-to-back rounds to warm him up. Sadly, he will have to wait longer to return to racing after suffering a broken left hand in a crash during Friday’s second practice session in Zandvoort.

But with Ricciardo sidelined, Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson was handed a rare opportunity to play substitute and make an unexpected grand prix debut with just a single hour of practice before he was thrown straight into his first ever qualifying session. The 21-year-old performed admirably across the two days, keeping his composure in the toughest of circumstances as rain hit the Dutch Grand Prix twice. As other, much more experienced drivers slid off track, Lawson kept his car out of the barriers and saw the chequered flag to achieve his core goal of the weekend.

With Ricciardo undergoing an operation on his injured hand, he is forced to miss the grand prix that he won just two seasons ago. Naturally, AlphaTauri are turning to Lawson again for Monza. This time he will have the luxury of three practice sessions to feel his way into the weekend before his second grand prix start. He now has an opportunity to head into the weekend fully prepared and ready to perform at his full potential – but with that, the expectations on him become much greater too.

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McLaren wing it

McLaren struggled on the straights at Spa
Ever since McLaren introduced its major upgrades package at the Austrian Grand Prix in late June, the Woking team’s fortunes have been transformed. From considering a Q3 appearance as a successful Saturday to regularly appearing on the top two rows of the grid, McLaren have become one of the strongest teams on the grid behind Red Bull.

However, at the last high-speed circuit at Spa, McLaren admittedly had some difficulties with their draggy rear wing leaving Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri highly vulnerable down the track’s long straights compared to their rivals. While McLaren have often managed to make up speed in recent rounds through the corners – particularly those in the higher speed range – Monza has the strongest ratio of straights to corners than any other circuit.

Team principal Andrea Stella admitted after the Spa weekend that the team needed to address this weakness “quite urgently” heading into the summer break. “And this urgency, for instance, comes from the fact that second race after shutdown is Monza, and you can’t go racing in Monza like this,” he explained. “So there’s urgent work that needs to happen at McLaren to fix the situation.” If they have not found a solution, they could be set for a tough three days.

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A second try of the ATA

At the Hungarian Grand Prix, F1 experimented with a novel new regulation aimed to reduce tyre waste by limiting the dry tyre sets each driver could use over the three days.

The ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ will return for Monza for the second and last time in 2023. Over the weekend, covering the three practice sessions, qualifying and the race, each driver will receive an allocation of 11 sets of Pirelli tyres instead of the standard 13 – four sets of softs, four mediums, and three hards.

Secondly, each round of qualifying will again have specific tyre restrictions. In Q1, all drivers must run on hard tyres, with those who progress to Q2 limited to only running on mediums. The top ten drivers who make it to the final shoot-out for pole position will be required to use soft rubber in the final phase.

The ATA received mixed reviews from drivers and teams at the Hungaroring, but Saturday saw one of the closest and most exciting qualifying sessions of the season. Whether that was a direct result of the experimental rules or just sheer coincidence, it will be interesting to see if any patterns emerge in this second field test.

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A rare dry weekend?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Zandvoort, 2023
Rain has been a fixture at recent F1 events
In what is likely to be a record run in Formula 1 history, the last eight consecutive rounds of the season have all seen rain-affected at least one F1 session during the grand prix weekend. On top of that the race which should have preceded them – coincidentally, also in Italy – was cancelled due to severe flooding.

With competition within the field already fierce, the consistent impact of weather has ramped up the pressure and intensity on both drivers and teams this season.

After so many rain-affected weekends in a row, the paddock could be forgiven for wishing for just a simple, straight forward, sunny Italian Grand Prix. Fortunately for them, they look set to get exactly that, if early forecasts are anything to go by.

Drivers will be keeping their fingers crossed that the current predictions of a zero percent chance of rain across all three days of running holds true, as ambient temperatures hover just below 30 degrees every day of the weekend. If that comes to pass, it will be the first full dry race weekend since the Miami Grand Prix in early May – coincidentally the first round of Verstappen’s record-equalling wins streak.

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Are you going to the Italian Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Italy for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you:

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Italian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

2023 Italian Grand Prix

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Author information

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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51 comments on “Ten-in-a-row for Verstappen? Six talking points for the 2023 Italian Grand Prix”

  1. Nah.. Williams will put the straight line package on and Albon walks it

    1. Honestly I agree. Albon is a potential podium finisher this weekend if everything clicks for the Williams team. The Zandvoort circuit should logically not suit it, with many medium or low speed corners. Yet they put two cars in Q3 in mixed conditions. They are improving rapidly.

      1. I wouldn’t mind it, but seems far fetched to me to get a podium with williams, with so many contenders behind red bull and only 1 podium place free if perez performs.

    2. I would love to see Max take the record as a testament to the level of perfection he is now performing on, but I could live with a Williams win just fine.

    3. baasbas – I like your optimism, but that’s realistically over-optimism, as a team can’t suddenly battle for a victory with a mere straight-line package, which is what all teams always do in Monza anyway.

    4. Williams keep being thwarted at their strongest circuits by sprints, ATAs and other circus-clown rules. But at least appendicitis, like lightning, never strikes twice.

      1. @bullfrog
        Would they call Nyck though is the real question :-)

    5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      30th August 2023, 15:13

      it would be really, really nice to see Williams score a podium.

    6. -Albon wins AND laps Max.
      -Wittich is given gold watch for throwing 100th SC
      -Fernando & Max announce their marriage.
      -PW claims the imminent “return” of USF1.
      -Toto and Horner drive #2 driver’s cars in FP1 to settle their rivalry

      1. @Nick T.
        And Bernie will wave the flag in a pink tutu

  2. Extraordinary stat that we’ve had eight consecutive rain affected F1 weekends. Also puts Verstappen’s achievement in perspective, overcoming that randomness factor is amazing.

  3. Verstappen’s perfect ten – Yes
    Can Ferrari find form? – Doubtful
    What is Lawson truly capable of? – Too early to judge based on a single race
    McLaren wing it – I’m positive they’ll perform better than at Spa-Francorchamps
    A second try of the ATA – I’m sure that’ll go smoothly
    A rare dry weekend? – About time

    1. Don’t forget they had a wet setup in spa and for piastri it paid off in the sprint with 2nd place, they would’ve been better off in the race with a dry setup, but it was a rare weekend where we had 4 competitive sessions and all but the race were wet.

  4. Coventry Climax
    30th August 2023, 12:29

    Verstappen’s tenth in a row – That’s up to the car more than to Verstappen himself. It gets progressively more difficult to keep up that high standard, and there’s so many more people involved in this than just Verstappen alone.

    Ferrari and form – That’s like putting my grandma in a dress and expect her to become a supermodel. Won’t happen. Way too many parameters that Ferrari are good at messing up.

    Lawson – He kept his cool last time out, but that’s no guarantee he’ll manage again. Like any rookie, confidence will betray him sometime, somewhere. Whether that’s Italy already? Let’s see, anything else is just conjecture. If he does turn out to be another iceman, there might be a chance Ricciardo will stay at Alpha Tauri longer, with Tsunoda as a team mate. That’s because Lawson gets the seat Ricciardo has his mind on?

    Williams – I would really love to see them doing well. A win is not something I’d put money on, although it might happen if things fall into place this time. I’m wondering how much of Williams’ improvement is due to the floor and the example photographs they’ve been offered earlier this season. Whatever they did, they apparently seem to also really understand what they’ve changed, and not just copied someone else’s designs.

    McLaren – Given they were made aware of the weakness since Spa, I’d be disappointed if they haven’t adressed it already. But if they haven’t, I should hope the budget goes into some other major improvement.

    ATA – That’s like the athlete’s governing body deciding on which shoes they can use this time. With tyre pressure restrictions similar to determining how tightly the shoes may be laced. Downright ridiculous. Let teams decide for themselves what works best for them. Want to reduce the amount of tyres hauled across the world? A) Make a clear decision on full wets: use them or ditch them. B) Come up with a decent tyre that drivers can push on without destroying them within a single lap. And bring back the number of compounds to two.

    Weather – Pity if it’s dry. I think it’s an utterly boring circuit. It would be a lot more interesting when it’s wet. Anyway, rain affected weekends are going to become a much more frequent occurence, to the point that dry races become the exception. Unless the FiA’s manages to implement it’s desired solution to go racing in desert states -and cities- exclusively.

    1. So, you imply rain-affected events become more & more frequent because of climate change?

      1. Maybe OP simply deducted that with more races on the calendar, the frequency of rain over those races (c.p.) is higher.

        But now you brought it up: Also warming due to climate change will lead to more frequent and intense precipitation in areas with a sea climate. Warmer oceans increase the amount of water that evaporates into the air.

        1. Coventry Climax
          30th August 2023, 17:18

          And with the warmer air capable of containing more humidity, that leads to way more intense rainfall when it does rain.
          Couple of days ago, parts of Central Europe had up to 500mm of rain in just two days. England as well as the Netherlands, both known to be rather wet countries, get about a 1000 and 800mm respectively per year.
          Flooding, land- and mudslides, uncontrollable wildfires, extreme temperatures both on land and in the oceans, ice melt, heavier hurricanes, drought, affected ocean and jet streams, you name it. The climate is hot and agitated. All the new reality.

      2. Many don’t seem to understand that climate change produces more extremes of every kind: more intense drought, more intense snowfall, more intense rain, more hurricanes, etc.

        1. Too much rain, climate change. Not enough rain, climate change. Less snow, climate change, more snow, climate change. More than normal hurricanes, climate change. Less than normal hurricanes, climate change. Hotter than normal, climate change. Colder than normal.. you guessed it.

          Under what conditions is it NOT climate change?

          1. Many don’t seem to understand that climate change produces more extremes of every kind:

            Even extreme ignorance ;)

            Not every ‘weather event’ is due to climate change, but the occurrence frequency and severity often is.

          2. Asking questions is ignorance?

            “Not every ‘weather event’ is due to climate change”
            Some are, some aren’t apparently. Which is my original point.

            I hope you have a pleasant day.

          3. Coventry Climax
            31st August 2023, 11:14

            You got it! Amazing!

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    30th August 2023, 14:22

    Don’t we have 9 more races left this season? Shouldn’t we be talking about 18 consecutive wins?

    Even if Verstappen starts from the rear, there’s a 100% guarantee he’ll win the race unless he collides.

    Reliability is the most likely thing to stop him but I doubt his car is on the limit where parts are increasingly likely to fail. He’d have to be unlucky for it to fail and the team can always take penalties at the expense of starting position (which is almost irrelevant) to manage that.

    The other thing that can stop him is a crash while pushing a car off track but there aren’t that many occasions where he’ll have to push a car. We saw it this weekend with Gasly and I recall an overtake on Leclerc 1-2 seasons ago where it was nip and tuck. Other than that, he’s kind of racing alone. That’s his Achilles heel at the moment.

    1. You’d think he might have to take a new engine at some point which should be a guaranteed win for Perez but on current form you’d expect on any track bar Monaco he could start last and still win given the race pace he’s had. I think the only hope for everyone else is a first corner accident or a gearbox/engine failure. Maybe there is a slim chance they might have gearbox issues before the end of the year given how extreme they went on design but it’s a real long shot.

      1. Agreed. 13 seconds ahead after an early pitstop should have been a guaranteed win for Checo last Sunday. It was not. A new engine will not either with the current form of Checo & Max.

        1. I’ve heard Perez was told to look after his tyres while Vestappen was allowed to push, Perez then not being told Vestappen was pitted and allowed to undercut him. Would certainly explain the discrepancy.

          1. Doesn’t really explain the fact he was 2s a lap slower on the same tyres bar a couple of laps wear right from the moment they changed to the inters on Verstappen. Perez just had no pace in the race compared to his teammate at least. There’s looking after your tyres, then there’s just driving too slowly. Maybe the pace went because he let his tyres fall out of their temperature window. I guess we’ll never know without a statement from Red Bull.

    2. Reading this it looks like the most likely thing to stop him is if he falls asleep at the wheel :-)

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        30th August 2023, 15:12

        ha-ha yeah, falling asleep might be the only thing that can stop him at this point.

    3. Don’t worry about Max pushing off other cars, he will leave that to Lewis.

      Lewis knows what to do.


      1. What a illustrative video, loved it. The astonishing thing is the way Sir always gets the other car ruined, even sends the othe guy to the hospital, and walks away unscathed (and nearly always unpunished). There are exceptions, like when Sir tried it on Fred and it backfired. Fred is too good to fall for the trick.
        Anyway the sheer skill and virtuosity showed in this one dirty trick proves Sir is not totally useless. About the only thing Sir can do well.

        1. Besides crane riding, I mean

          1. Yep he always gets away with it. Three times’ a pattern-dirty move-Lewis being relatively safe at the inside, tipping the other guy with a classic pit-maneuver. Maybe he liked to watch Cops when he was a kid?

  6. The forecast for Monza looks dry over the weekend so I would not expect rain. It’s interesting that I think people are quite happy to see a bit of rain because it generally makes things more exciting. The racing can be quite boring in recent times although I thought Zandvoort was quite entertaining.

    1. Coventry Climax
      30th August 2023, 17:27

      I may be speaking for myself, but no, rain does not make things generally more exciting. Plenty circuits where I prefer to see a dry race. But, -my opinion- Monza could do with a bit of rain. 4 corners and three chicanes are not my type of circuit. It’s more like an oval.

      1. I think it is fair to say though, that over the many years I have been watching F1, several if not a majority of what are considered great races, have had an element of wet/changable weather. I quite enjoy these conditions.

        If it not wet and not close, then Monza can often make for a pretty dull race.

  7. Jonathan Parkin
    30th August 2023, 14:30

    Nico Hulkenberg is 15 race starts away from beating Andrea DeCesaris’s long standing record of 208 starts without a win – Nico is currently on 194.

    Not only that he still hasn’t been on the podium yet whereas Andrea had just not on the top step

    1. Well, that’s an inevitable record for hulkenberg, as haas will continue with him next year too and a podium is already unrealistic, let alone a win.

  8. I’m most looking forward to some dry sessions to be honest, while the wet weather throws up some randomness to events it also stops teams properly catching Red Bull as they’re unable to collect the reliable stable dry running data they need to progress their developments and confirm their new bits work as expected. Would be nice to give some of the chasing teams a few races to lock in some good development for next year.

  9. @freelittlebirds Let’s talk statistics here. There are three ways in which Verstappen does NOT win a race. The first one is obviously being beaten on merit, the second one a technical failure (it did happen this year, just not during the race) and the third one a collission or crash. Let’s assume that these three chances add up to an all-time low of only 10%, meaning Verstappen has a 90% chance of winning each upcoming race this year. This 90% over the course of 9 races will eventually mean a chance of 39% percent of winning them all. So even with incredible high win-chances, it is still unlikely that Verstappen will win all races.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      30th August 2023, 17:08

      @Matthijs good point. How does the fact that he’s won 9 already factor into the next 9 races? I know you’ll say they are independent which is what I also believed but I think it alters the odds significantly.

      1. @freelittlebirds Well statistically it doesn’t. When you flip a coin, the chance for heads will always be 50%, no matter what the result was of the previous flip. But in the case of Verstappen winning, I based my percentages on him winning 9 races on a row. Before his winning streak, nobody would give him 90% of winning. But his chances will never be 100%. His last technical failure was 12 races ago (Jeddah qualy), he was beaten by Perez 10 races ago and he had a collission 15 races ago. So my estimation of 90 percent is rather generous. When you take 85%, the chance of him winning the next 9 races is reduced to only 23%.

        1. Chance of me watching the next 9 races: 0%.

        2. Well Hamilton had a run of 48 point finishes from Silverstone 2018 to Bahrain 2020 with 41 podiums.
          During those 48 races he had no mechanical failures, damage or crashes other than damage/crashes caused by himself.

          The 7 not podiums were:
          Mexico 2018: 4th, nothing special, Mercedes engine less powerful in Mexico, Max and Ferrari’s were faster
          Austria 2019: 5th, damaged front wing due to frequent curb riding
          Germany 2019: 9th, Lewis crashed and entered the pits incorrectly incurring a penalty
          Singapore 2019: 4th, Strategy error and lack of pace
          Brazil 2019: 6th, Lewis finished 3rd but got penalty for hitting Albon
          Austria 2020: 4th, Lewis finished 2nd but got penalty for hitting Albon
          Italy 2020: 7th, Lewis got a 10 second stop and go penalty for entering the pits while it was closed
          Sahkir: The 48 point finishes streak ended as Lewis didn’t race due to Covid

          Max is currently on a 32 point finishes streak with 29 podiums, the none podiums are:
          Silverstone 2022: 7th, Max was leading when he picked up debris causing floor damage
          Singapore 2022: 7th, too little fuel to complete pole lap, started 8th and gained positions but then massively locking his tires during the race needing an extra pitstop
          Brazil 2022: 6th, Red Bull car set-up was wrong resulting in losing places in sprint and main race.

          So 2022 should 3 separated cases how it is very well possible that Max will not win all remaining races or not even get 9 more podiums this year. Singapore and the sprint weekends being the most likely races for misfortune or errors to occur.

          1. I remember well mexico 2018 and it was red bull > ferrari > merc that race, there was even ricciardo who was holding off vettel and it would’ve been the only red bull 1-2 between 2016 and 2022, but he had (yet another) engine problem around 15 laps to go.

            Brazil 2022 also, a reason for verstappen being so far back is that he tried an optimistic overtake on hamilton on the outside of turn 1 early on, they crashed, picked up damage and had to recover from the back, but indeed red bull was relatively uncompetitive that weekend, apart from quali.

            Also, you said he might not win all races or not even get on the podium all races, but thinking about it, they’re probably tied with each other: in order to stop verstappen, something big needs to happen, so I’d say he will probably either win or not get on the podium, exception is if he has some issue setting him back in quali and perez is back to his early season form, then he can win with verstappen 2nd.

    2. Coventry Climax
      31st August 2023, 11:31

      I get what you’re trying to say, but:

      Let’s talk statistics, and let’s assume…

      You are aware of the trouble relationship between those two, are you?

  10. With Red Bull continuing to monopolise the top step of the podium, Ferrari arrive at Monza without a victory to their name for the third time in the last four seasons.

    And there you have it, the horrible legacy of a designer who thought he could be team principal, and a bunch of suits who wanted to make their mark on F1’s most prestigious team after Marchionne passed away. To think they got rid of the Arrivabene+Vettel combo for… whatever this has turned into.

    1. I mean, vettel wasn’t performing well, he threw away the title in 2018 in a rare case where ferrari wasn’t outdeveloped over the season.

      1. Quite the opposite, the 2018 car became so bad due to months of I’ll conceived “upgrades” that they took them all off for the US GP and promptly won again.

    2. To be fair.. To think they let go of Dominecali + Alonso for a Arrivebene + Vettel combo was ridiculous enough.

      1. Domenicali wasn’t strong enough politically. He lost the double diffuser row in 2009, lost the blown diffuser debate in 2011 (Ferrari won the only race run that year under the arguably proper rules), refused to pursue Red Bull’s dodgy floor in 2012, and completely missed the mark for 2014. There probably wasn’t anything he could have done to stop the Pirelli change in 2013, but that compromised Ferrari too.

        Losing Alonso was indeed very unfortunate.

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