Record breaking Verstappen wins Italian GP as stoic Sainz takes the plaudits

Dogged defence and overtaking difficult as Monza produced a classic Italian GP.

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Max Verstappen took a record-breaking tenth consecutive win in Formula 1, winning an entertaining 2023 Italian Grand Prix ahead of Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, who was rewarded for a fantastically dogged performance.

It proved difficult to overtake at Monza, but that produced an intriguing race with Sainz defending for long stretches against the Red Bulls, while further back the McLaren pair spent almost their entire second stint chasing the Williams of Alex Albon.

Hamilton proved the most dynamic driver in the field, as one of just two drivers to start on the hard tyres, but scythed pack through the pack on his second stint, despite picking up a five-second penalty for a collision with Oscar Piastri.

The race start was delayed by twenty minutes as Yuki Tsunoda pulled up on the formation lap with an engine failure, helping the home fans ramp to fever pitch before Sainz held onto lead at the first corner.

Sainz put up a heroic defence for 14 laps – the longest stretch a non-Red Bull has led all season – but locked up at turn one and Verstappen was able to get past at the next chicane.

A lap later, Perez finally overtook George Russell after spending the opening period stuck behind the Mercedes, and that released him to chase down the Ferraris.

It looked like he might get into second before the first pit stops but after Sainz and Leclerc emerged ahead of Perez, more determined Ferrari defence on home tarmac was able to frustrate Red Bull.

Perez eventually passed Leclerc but had to wait until six laps to go before he could get past Sainz, leaving the Ferraris to fight out a brutal battle for the final podium spot.

It looked set to send in tears at one point but Sainz came through to take a thoroughly deserved podium.

Five-team podium battle doesn’t materialise

Ahead of the race, fans were hopeful there’d be several teams battling it out for the podium regardless of whether Verstappen could overhaul Sainz.

However, Sainz‘s 15-lap stint helped Verstappen and the Ferraris pull away from the chasing pack, with Perez stuck behind Russell.

The Mexican was able to catch up to the frontrunners but McLaren, Mercedes and Albon were in a race for the minor points places.

That didn’t make it any less exciting though, Albon pitted very early in an FW43 that showed fantastic straight-line speed all afternoon but he was left with a monster 36-lap stint on the hard tyre, and spent much of that defending from Norris.

Hamilton looked out of it after slipping to ninth at the start but recovered brilliantly on the medium tyres, dispatching Fernando Alonso, Piastri, Norris and Albon.

Contact with the Australian earned Hamilton a five-second penalty but he was able to solidify the sixth-place finish behind his teammate who had a pretty quiet race after that battle with Perez.

Alonso and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the points, while Liam Lawson picked up a very impressive 11th, beating Nyck de Vries‘ best finish of the season.

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