Verstappen had never stood on the storied Monza podium before; his best result prior to then was seventh in 2018.
Max Verstappen, who is now leading the Formula One championship, won the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday and is now just a few points away from winning a second straight championship. Verstappen currently holds a 116-point advantage over Charles Leclerc, who came in second following another dubious Ferrari strategy choice on its home track. The Dutch driver could mathematically win the championship in Singapore the following month with only six races left.
Verstappen had never previously stood on the storied podium at Monza; his best performance prior to then was fifth in 2018. Verstappen began seventh after receiving a grid penalty in Monza along with a number of other drivers, but he advanced to third by the first corner of the second lap. At the start of lap five, the Red Bull driver then eliminated George Russell, a Mercedes, setting off a chase for Ferrari polesitter Leclerc.
After Sebastian Vettel’s final race at Monza ended dishonorably with the four-time world champion pulling up at the side of the track after complaining about a power problem, the Virtual Safety Car came out on Lap 12 and provided him with an opportunity.
Verstappen was able to take the lead after Leclerc was brought in by Ferrari to switch to medium tyres. Third when he reentered the race, Leclerc. After passing Russell, he briefly recovered the lead when Verstappen made his pit stop on lap 26, but the two drivers traded positions again seven laps later when the Ferrari driver made his second tyre change of the race. After Daniel Ricciardo, last year’s winner pulled over on Lap 47, the safety car was deployed once more, forcing most cars to pit for soft tyres.
Verstappen secured his fifth consecutive victory and his 11th of the season, one more than the previous year, as the race came to a close behind the safety car.
Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lewis Hamilton, who had to start at the rear of the grid after penalties, were ahead of Russell in third place. Nyck de Vries, a Williams reserve and rookie in Formula One, placed ninth. After the Thai driver was found to have appendicitis, the 27-year-old driver was a last-minute replacement for Alex Albon.