The increasingly unstoppable combination at the Autodrome Verstappen-Red Bull wins the eleventh victory of the season, the fifth in a row, the third comeback on four appointments. Numbers that alone would be enough to describe the extraordinariness of what has been built by the ever closer two-world champion, who will already be able to play the first match point in Singapore. In Monza the star of another Dutch champion also shines, Nyck de Vries, who, after winning in Formula 2 and having established himself in Formula E, seizes the opportunity of a lifetime, leading Williams to points on his debut. While in Ferrari he leaves Brianza with the regret of a long-savored victory, but with the awareness of having partly regained competitiveness on the track where one could least expect it.
When the traffic lights went out, Max Verstappen completed his comeback in shorter times than most optimistic forecasts, overtaking George Russell and throwing himself in pursuit of Charles Leclerc in just five laps. During the first stint Ferrari did not suffer from excessive tire degradation as instead happened in Zandvoort and even earlier in Spa, but in general on the Monza Sunday on every car the decay of the tires was not particularly relevant. Nonetheless, Verstappen was still able to recover from two to three tenths per lap on the Monegasque rival, capitalizing on the heaviest structure deliberately approved on Saturday, taking just over a second of gap before the Virtual Safety Car regime. At that point, the willingness of the Maranello team to deviate from ordinary strategy appears understandable, since under normal conditions and at the same strategic level it would have been difficult to resist the more competitive Red Bull for over forty laps. The Cavallino thus preferred to take the neutralization to make the stop, saving 6 seconds from the 25 lost under the green flaga gain that could have been even greater if the Virtual Safety Car had been extended for a few more seconds.
The Monegasque thus mounted medium tires, moving within ten seconds of the world champion before he in turn made his own stop to switch to medium compounds. Verstappen at that point set a remarkable pace, with the projection of recovering the Ferrari man approximately within fifteen to ten laps from the conclusion. Red Bull’s comeback pushed the Ferrari wall to a second stop, but based on the limited information available some perplexity arises about this choice. To hope for victory, Leclerc would have had to recover twenty seconds in as many laps, equal to one second per lap, a feat that seemed prohibitive. In fact, in the central part of the race, on eleven laps cooler, Verstappen recovered one second per lap on Leclerc in two laps, but no more than seven tenths in the other four laps, a progression that inevitably would have dropped. It therefore appears unlikely that the Ferrari number 16 could hope to recover a second per lap with tires six laps cooler, where the best performing Red Bull failed to do so with a tire advantage of eleven laps.
On the other hand, if Leclerc had remained on the track Verstappen would have fallen on the Monegasque well ahead of the checkered flag, bringing everything to a confrontation with the white weapon with conditions clearly in favor of the Dutch champion. For Ferrari it was therefore a matter of deciding which destiny to meet and although it could be debated whether the decision taken was the most suitable, the high probability that in both cases Red Bull would have triumphed is the further attestation of the indisputable superiority of the RB18. The competition has taken steps backwards, but at the same time, Milton Keynes’s team has taken as many steps forward, too often gone under the radar. Verstappen himself, for example, underlined how the slimming treatment during the season benefited the car not only in terms of absolute lightness, but also because the excess weight was located in such places that upset the balance of the car, inducing chronic understeer. then disappeared. In Singapore, the world champion will have the first opportunity to confirm himself arithmetically, a scenario that is incredible when compared with the world championship prospects of the Dutchman after the away match in Melbourne.
In Brianza Ferrari also performed important comparative tests on Fridays between the latest fund specification introduced in France and the previous one. The suspicion in Maranello is that the car’s recent balance problems derive from a misinterpretation of the set-up after the latest updates have induced secondary behavior in F1-75. Enlightening in this regard were the words in the press conference of Pierre Wache, Red Bull Technical Director, who underlined how performance and balance research can be two contrasting aspects in the development path: “Every time it is difficult when you try to develop the car theoretically for performance and then you find yourself stuck in terms of set-up to rebalance the car. This means that you have to give up a bit of performance to get the correct balance, the one you want. I would say you lose some performance to improve it. It doesn’t mean it’s a lot, but it’s that kind of direction ”. For Ferrari, therefore, a work similar to that described by Wache could be envisaged and the three weeks of rest will be precious time to analyze the data collected at Monza.
The other great story that stands out on the Monza Sunday is that of Nyck de Vriesarrived, albeit momentarily, in Formula 1 with an alternative path that led him first to the victory of the World Championship in Formula E. Scoring the points while managing the tension of the debut is always an undertaking, even more so when this happens without warning or preparation in the current season, but doing it aboard a Williams bottom in the standings is a work worthy of all praise. Williams who, however, should no longer be underestimated as at the beginning of the year, but which is increasingly a reality in the center-group. The points of Monza follow those of Spa, with the parenthesis of Zandvoort where on an unfavorable track the FW44 was however well defended. The team begins to reap the benefits of the courage to change the concept of the car during the current season, converting to the setting with the bellies declining towards the rear starting from Silverstone and from there finding more and more performance and moving away from the last row of the grid. Williams is confirmed to be one of the fastest cars on the straight due to the lack of load that limits its potential, which is why Monza was the ideal hunting ground, but slowly the FW44 is starting to show off other qualities as well.
Mercedes was the author with Russell of a solo race, expressing a constant pace without accusing particular degradation, to underline how much the W13 does not sin in tire management but in overall performance. Monza was the worst circuit for the Silver Arrows, but there will also be suffering in Singapore, on a city asphalt where the car has already shown that it can hardly digest the roughness.
McLaren realizes the good qualifying with the seventh place, with Lando Norris who closed the Italian Grand Prix first of the others. An excellent management of the weekend by the Woking team, with a car that in the season was never irresistible on the straight, to the point that the team feared that the performance on the single lap on the Monza Saturday had masked a picture more critical than it appeared. Homely joy for too AlphaTauriwhich concretizes the affinity of the AT03 on the fast corners of Brianza, returning to the points with Pierre Gasly and moving to only one distance in the championship from the eighth place held by Haas.
Closing, a comment on the setting of the racetrackas always, a literally unique show in the world, for better or for worse, as beautiful in some respects as unworthy in others. Under the podium the already well-known scene of the winner was repeated, overwhelmed by whistles of contempt from a large section of the audience below, accompanied by other episodes in the gallery of verbal violence against fans guilty of not wearing the colors of the local team. The vulgar and unsportsmanlike cheering is inconsistent with the values of sport in general and proves even more out of place in a discipline where athletes risk their skin at every session. It is also difficult to understand how one cannot be led to recognize and appreciate the value of rivals, so that one’s favorites shine with reflected light, as the caliber of an athlete or a team goes hand in hand with that of the opponents with which he compares. “It is part of the cheering”, it will be said, but it is not that because something is regulated by certain dynamics that it is necessarily as it should be.
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