Max Verstappen claimed a record-breaking tenth consecutive Formula 1 win at the Italian Grand Prix despite staunch defence from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in front of the expectant Tifosi.
The sea of Ferrari fans in attendance at the Temple of Speed would have to settle for a third-place finish for Sainz, as once again there was no stopping Red Bull or the inevitable Verstappen.
With two weeks until the next round in Singapore, who can go into the break with their heads held high, and who has been left with some work to do?
Max Verstappen – 9
Qualified: P2, Race: P1
Ferrari may have been a match for Red Bull, but they weren’t a match for Verstappen. Although he had to fight for it, a record-breaking 10th consecutive F1 win always seemed inevitable. Verstappen displayed a champion’s mentality through his observations in the run-up to his overtake on Carlos Sainz for the race lead.
The Dutchman handled the challenge from Ferrari masterfully and coasted to a confident victory whilst managing a critical issue on the car. Another superb drive from the reigning champion who is simply unstoppable right now.
Sergio Perez – 7.5
Qualified: P5, Race: P2
Perez entered qualifying with pretty limited track time under his belt. A minor crash in FP2 and an engine leak in FP3 meant the Mexican went into qualifying on the back foot, meaning his P5 grid spot came as no surprise to him.
Perez fought hard for fourth with George Russell, slowing his progress up the field. But after finally getting the better of the Mercedes, he swiftly caught up to the Ferrari duo and returned the second Red Bull to where it should have been: directly behind Max Verstappen.
While it was a good performance for Perez on Sunday, it’s hard to ignore his need for an incident-free weekend.
Carlos Sainz – 9
Qualified: P1, Race: P3
Sainz stealing pole from Verstappen at Monza in front of the Tifosi was undoubtedly the feel-good story of the weekend.
As such, for Sainz to lose a podium spot on sacred ground for Ferrari would have been a shame. However, the Spaniard earned the privilege of holding aloft a trophy in red at Monza after a valiant drive.
The polesitter defended heroically against Verstappen but struggled with tyre degradation, which saw him fall off the Red Bull. Unaided by his staunch defence throughout the race, Sainz fended off team-mate Leclerc after a fierce battle between the pair.
A spirited drive that was fairly rewarded with third place.
Charles Leclerc – 7.5
Qualified: P3, Race: P4
Leclerc never looked to match the pace of Sainz over the course of the weekend, but he was able to bide his time and keep pace before the Verstappen found clean air.
Having saved more of his tyres over both stints, Leclerc looked to be the fastest of the two Ferraris as battle commenced in the closing laps. However, a series of lockups and close calls almost brought disaster rather than entertainment and the scrap arguably should have been called off sooner.
Thankfully, the Tifosi were left with something to smile about as both cars survived to finish third and fourth as Leclerc rounded off a solid weekend.
George Russell – 7
Qualified: P4, Race: P5
Russell fought hard and well to defend against Perez in a tussle that saw both drivers make mistakes. However, the Red Bull eventually found its way past, and Russell found himself in relative no-man’s land for the remainder of the race.
That is barring a clumsy incident with Esteban Ocon coming out of the pits. The Mercedes driver was penalised for missing the chicane but still managed a good haul of points for the team.
Lewis Hamilton – 6
Qualified: P8, Race: P6
After a pretty lacklustre performance in qualifying, Hamilton was put on the alternate strategy for the start of the race. The seven-time champion played the opening stint on the Hards patiently before methodically making his way past the opposition.
All was seemingly going well until a collision with Oscar Piastri for which Hamilton was rightfully blamed.
The weekend should have been a celebration for Hamilton after extending his contract. In reality, it never really came together and he was no match for Russell.
Alex Albon – 8.5
Qualified: P6, Race: P7
Another excellent drive for Albon, who claimed a fifth points finish of the season for Williams. Aided by his strong qualifying performance, the Anglo-Thai driver was able to keep a series of faster cars behind at bay thanks to the straight-line prowess of the FW45.
Another addition to the growing list of statement drives for Albon since his arrival at Williams last year.
Logan Sargeant – 5
Qualified: P15, Race: P13
Sargeant threw away an opportunity to impress at Zandvoort and did so again at Monza.
The rookie was presented with the equipment to make another Q3 appearance and potentially challenge for points on Sunday. However, once again, he wasn’t able to extract anywhere near the same performance from the FW45 as Albon.
The American had hovered on the fringes of the points, again benefitting in the race from superior straight-line speed, but his tyres had seen far better days, and he slipped down the order, picking up a time penalty after a tangle with Valtteri Bottas for good measure.
Lando Norris – 6.5
Qualified: P9, Race: P8
McLaren weren’t able to demonstrate the same performance as they had found before the summer break, but the knowledge that a bad day for the team warranted points will be of comfort.
Out-qualified by his rookie team-mate, Norris was able to jump Piastri in the pit cycle – although a slight coming together infuriated Team Principal Andrea Stella. Norris struggled with a lack of top speed but he still stayed ahead of Alonso and Aston Martin.
Oscar Piastri – 6
Qualified: P7, Race: P12
A very impressive Saturday performance from the young rookie to out-qualify his more experienced team-mate for only the third time.
Having worked hard to be the leading McLaren, Piastri was unfortunate to lose out to Norris when the latter was handed an undercut by the team. The pair made contact at Turn 1 but avoided disaster.
Piastri also found himself in a coming together with Hamilton, which the Briton apologised for. The McLaren driver was also penalised for his creative interpretation of the track layout when passing Liam Lawson to compound a frustrating end to a weekend that had started promisingly.
Fernando Alonso – 6.5
Qualified: P10, Race: P9
Monza felt like a return to reality for Aston Martin and Alonso. The podium performance in Zandvoort last weekend was an already distant memory as the 42-year-old endured an “anonymous” Italian Grand Prix.
After repassing Hulkenberg, the Spaniard benefitted from Piastri’s tangle with Hamilton but anything higher than ninth couldn’t have been expected on a horrid track for the AMR23.
Lance Stroll – 4
Qualified: P20, Race: P16
Nothing seemed to go Stroll’s way this weekend. He missed FP1 as Felipe Drugovich completed his first outing of the season, and then was again on the sidelines for FP2 after grinding to a stop following two sighter laps.
One day behind his competitors, Stroll was on the back foot for the remainder of the weekend. Qualifying 20th and last, the Canadian failed to make an impact in the race after struggling with tyre management issues, eventually getting caught by those who opted for the two-stop.
Valtteri Bottas – 7
Qualified: P14, Race: P10
Things finally seemed to come together for Bottas in what has been a rather disappointing season for the Finn. Profiting from the inverse tyre strategy, Bottas found himself in the perfect place to pick up places when those around faced trouble.
He still had to dislodge the faster car of Sargeant for the final point but did so and maintained the pace to preserve tenth.
Guanyu Zhou – 5
Qualified: P16, Race: P14
Zhou had a pretty anonymous race in Monza, getting out-raced and out-qualified by his more experienced team-mate. Zhou was placed on the two-stop but was unable to extract the pace required to ever threaten the points in the closing stages of the race.
Liam Lawson – 8
Qualified: P12, Race: P11
Liam Lawson was aiming for a more straightforward weekend than that of his maiden grand prix outing in Zandvoort last weekend. The New Zealander remained focused all weekend and got on with his job with impressive maturity, avoiding trouble throughout.
Lawson matched his team-mate in qualifying, narrowly missing out on Q3, but would lose his benchmark for the race as Yuki Tsunoda’s AT04 gave up on the formation lap.
Lawson drove consistently throughout the race and could have had a chance at points if the team hadn’t converted to a two-stop strategy.
Yuki Tsunoda – 6
Qualified: P11, Race: DNS
It would be unjust to award Tsunoda anything lower than a ‘baseline’ six out of ten for his Italian Grand Prix. A race AlphaTauri has twice won, Tsunoda’s Sunday afternoon was over before the end of the formation lap as he ground to a halt on the back straight.
Tsunoda had looked to be in good form on Friday and qualified well on Saturday. A case of what could have been.
Pierre Gasly– 5
Qualified: P17, Race: P15
Just like Alonso, Gasly was also faced with the reality of Alpine’s performance struggles this season. The team were grossly uncompetitive all weekend, as brutally revealed by qualifying.
The race was not much different for Gasly and Alpine who, with nothing to lose, gambled on a Medium-Hard-Medium strategy. The strategy was insignificant, and the end of the race was welcomed.
Esteban Ocon – 5
Qualified: P18, Race: DNF
Similar struggles faced Ocon in the wholly uncompetitive Alpine.
Ocon quietly retired from the race after picking up steering issues in what accurately summed up the horrid weekend Alpine endured.
Nico Hulkenberg – 6
Qualified: P13, Race: P17
It was a case of déjà vu for Hulkenberg, who again qualified his Haas well and made forward progress at the start. That was of course until Haas’ recurrent tyre degradation issues led to him falling back down the order after being forced onto a two-stop strategy.
The potential and pace for points are clearly there for Hulkenberg, but Haas must get on top of the tyre woes to realise that potential.
Kevin Magnussen – 5
Qualified: P19, Race: P18
It was also a pretty terrible day on the other half of the Haas garage as Magnussen struggled home to 18th and last on Sunday. The Dane was one of the first to pit despite starting on the Hard tyre in a call indicative of the sincerity of Haas’ difficulties.
Again, Magnussen was outclassed by Hulkenberg but the focus should instead be placed on the need for changes and improvement at Haas.