Max Verstappen caught and passed Carlos Sainz Jnr to win a record-breaking tenth consecutive grand prix in the Italian Grand Prix.Sergio Perez, who also rose from fifth on the grid to overtake the two Ferraris.
Sainz claimed his first podium finish of the season in third after holding off team mate Charles Leclerc in a battle to the end of the race.
Before the race, the vast majority of the field all opted to start on the medium compound, with Lewis Hamilton in eighth the only driver in the top ten to fit hard tyres for the start. Sainz left the dummy grid for the formation lap on pole position with Verstappen alongside him on the front row. However, Yuki Tsunoda pulled off the track just before the final corner of Alboreto (formerly Parabolica) with smoke coming from his AlphaTauri.
The start was aborted, with drivers sent off for an extra Formation Lap. After forming up a second time, the start was aborted again as Tsunoda’s car remained stuck in gear, with a formal delay seeing mechanics allowed back onto the grid.
A third formation lap began 20 minutes after the original, with the field finally lining up on the grid for the start. When the lights went out, Sainz held the lead ahead of Verstappen, with Leclerc retaining third ahead of George Russell in fourth. When DRS was activated at the end of lap two, Verstappen was within a second to make use of the system but appeared happy to bide his time during the early phase of the race.
Verstappen eventually had a look at the leader into the Rettifilo chicane at the start of lap six, but was rebuffed by Sainz, allowing Leclerc behind to stick within DRS range. Verstappen continued to pressure Sainz and when Sainz locked up into the Rettifilo at the start of lap 15, Verstappen drew alongside through Curva Grande and took the lead into the Della Roggia chicane.
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Now out front, Verstappen immediately pulled out of DRS range of the Sainz and was over four seconds clear by lap 19. Sainz was the first of the leaders to stop at the end of that lap, joined by Russell behind, both taking the hard compound tyres. Verstappen and Leclerc both boxed at the end of the next lap, with Verstappen rejoining in sixth behind Fernando Alonso and Leclerc emerging immediately behind team mate Sainz, pressuring him up to the Della Roggia chicane but remaining behind.
Verstappen caught up to Hamilton, who was still on his starting hard tyres, passing him to retake the lead with Sainz now third, under five seconds behind. Hamilton eventually pitted at the end of lap 27, allowing the Ferraris back up to second and third with Perez now right behind Leclerc in fourth.
Perez challenged Leclerc into the Della Roggia chicane and was squeezed by the Ferrari driver on the outside. However, the Red Bull driver had his revenge at the start of the next lap when he used DRS along the main straight to breeze by the Ferrari and up into third place.
Hamilton caught up to Piastri for eighth place but the pair made contract into the Della Roggia chicane, causing damage to the McLaren’s front wing, forcing Piastri to pit. Hamilton was able to continue on his way, but was handed a five second time penalty for causing the collision, putting him under threat from Alonso behind.
After multiple laps of pressuring Leclerc, Perez eventually passed Sainz for second place with five laps remaining. Sainz then came under intense pressure from his team mate behind, with the two Ferraris battling for multiple laps but Sainz repelling his team mate every time.
Verstappen ticked off the remaining laps to cross the line at secure a record-breaking tenth consecutive grand prix victory. Perez was six seconds behind in second place as Sainz won the battle between the Ferrari drivers to secure his first podium appearance of the season in third.
Leclerc had to settle for fourth, with both Mercedes of Russell and Hamilton holding onto their finishing positions of fifth and sixth despite both having five second-post race time penalties. Albon held off Norris after pressure across the end of the race to claim seventh, with Alonso taking ninth and Valtteri Bottas securing the final point for Alfa Romeo.
Liam Lawson finished 13th on the road behind Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri, but both of Lawson’s fellow rookies received five-second penalties and were demoted, promoting the AlphaTauri driver to 11th.
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2023 Italian Grand Prix
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