Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. (Photo: @redbullracing/Twitter.)

Red Bulls Max Verstappen has continued his dominant championship defence, winning the Italian Grand Prix at Monza for the first time in his career.

The rest of the podium was made up of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in second and Mercedes’ George Russell finishing third.

Having started the race in seventh place after receiving a five place grid penalty for taking a new engine, Verstappen made quick work of moving up the grid, climbing into third place by the start of the second lap.

Verstappen soon moved ahead of Russell on lap five before taking the lead on lap 13 following Leclerc pitting. From there the Ferrari driver and Dutchmen battled it out for first place, swapping positions as the other pitted.

After Verstappen retook the lead on lap 34 following a Leclerc pit, it appeared as though the Monegasques driver would have the chance to chase down the reigning world champion, but it was not to be. A safety car on lap 47 following Daniel Ricciardo being forced to retire with an engine issue meant the race finished under the safety car and therefore Verstappen claimed his 11th win of the season.

Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez finished the race in sixth place after having to start in 13th following a grid penalty for a new engine and gearbox.

Red Bull now holds an almost uncatchable lead over Ferrari in the Constructors Championship with 545 points compared to 406.

With just six races to go, Verstappen holds a 116 point lead over Leclerc in the Driver Standings. This means if he wins the next Grand Prix in Singapore and Leclerc finishes fifth or lower he will win the 2022 World Championship.

Ricciardo DNF’s, Norris continues to fire

Having won the Italian Grand Prix last year with Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren found themselves in a strong position again in Monza with its two cars starting in third and fourth.

A strong start from Ricciardo saw him move into third, while Norris was slow off the blocks falling to sixth on the first lap.

Unable to compete with the blistering pace of the Red Bull and Ferrari vehicles, Ricciardo found himself in fifth place by lap 14 before opting to pit on lap 20 and come out in 12th. Ricciardo was able to work his way into the top six, 16 laps later but this was short lived.

McLaren opted for a different strategy for Norris, not pitting him until lap 36 with the British driver returning to the track in ninth. The move proved advantageous for him as by lap 38 he was able to pass his teammate and move into seventh where he finished the Grand Prix.

As for Ricciardo tragedy struck on lap 47 when he was forced to pull over on the side of the track with an engine issue which forced him to retire from the race.

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Luckless Ferrari

Having not won in Monza since Charles Leclerc did so in 2019, the Italian team were hoping to turn its fortunes around with Leclerc starting on pole for the race. While the strategy appeared to give them the chance to win their home race, the timing of the safety car proved unfortunate for the team, with them having to finish the race behind Red Bull again.

It was not all doom and gloom for the team, with them able to slightly reduce the deficit in the Constructors Championship, with Carlos Sainz coming from 18th to finish fourth. The Spanish driver started so low due to receiving a grid penalty after taking new engine parts and gearbox.

Undeterred Sainz made quick work of putting himself into an advantageous position able to get into the top five by lap 12. He soon moved past Ricciardo into fourth just two laps later however was unable to climb any higher from there.

Ferrari now finds themselves 139 points behind Red Bull.

Other Notable Performances

Lewis Hamilton showed his class after receiving an engine penalty which meant he started the race in 19th, working his way back to finish in fifth place.

Williams was forced to make a driver change in Monza with Alex Albon suffering an appendicitis meaning Nyck De Vries replaced him. The Dutch driver showed plenty of promise, starting the race in eighth place and going on to finish ninth to secure Williams two points.

The result is huge for Williams as they had scored just four points prior to the Italian Grand Prix. De Vries has now scored more points for the team this season than Nicholas Latifi who has yet to record a top 10 result.

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