Verstappen says Monza safety car finish 'unfortunate'

Max Verstappen (NLD), Red Bull Racing 11.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race
© XPB 

Max Verstappen once again stamped his authority all over Formula 1, with another dominant display in the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday to pick up his 11th win of the season and the fifth in a row.

It means the Red Bull driver has opened a 116 point lead over Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc as he looks set to romp to his second world championship title - which he could now seal as early as Singapore.

Despite having to overcome a five place grid penalty, it took Verstappen just 12 laps to get to the front for the first time in the race when Leclerc made an early pit stop.

Although Leclerc got in front again during the next round of pit stops, another stop for the Monegasque meant Verstappen took charge again on lap 34 and cruised to victory when the race ended under a safety car.

"We had a great race on every compound and we were quickest," he told the media in parc ferme after the end of the race.

"We have a really good race car, and basically we were just controlling the gap at the end and the safety car came out," he continued. "Unfortunately we didn't get a restart.

“From what I understood, [Ricciardo's] car was stuck in gear and that’s why it took so long," he said. “When the car is parked there, there’s no gap where you can push the car into. That’s why the crane had to come, and that’s why they ran out of time.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18 leads behind the Aston Martin FIA Safety Car. 11.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race

"But overall a really good day," he said. "It was really enjoyable to drive today, even though it was quite hot out there," he said, adding that a clean start to the race had been crucial.

"I had a clean chicane, and then I could quickly get back into my rhythm and get into second," he acknowledged.

It's Verstappen's 31st career Grand Prix win, but the first time that he's ever finished on the podium at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza which had traditionally not been a happy hunting ground for him.

"It’s amazing what we’re experiencing within the team,” Verstappen said. “I think we’re having an amazing year and it’s important to enjoy it as well.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Red Bull Racing RB18. 11.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race

"We’ve had a lot of different challenges of different kinds of tracks and now the car seems to work at every single kind of track and we are extremely pleased.”

“It’s very unfortunate, and normally everyone wants to finish under green flag. Unfortunately we were just short of laps. But I had a new soft as well, so I was not too worried if it was a one-lap shootout.”

Things did not go quite so well for his team mate Sergio Perez, who also had a grid penalty for engine component changes meaning that he lined up in 13th place on the grid this afternoon.

He lost a number of places when the lights came out and opted to make an early stop, after which his brakes appeared to briefly catch fire.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18. 11.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race

Fortunately no lasting harm was done and he progressed into the top ten over the ensuing laps. A late second stop for a final set of soft tyres allowed him to pick up the bonus point for fastest lap and finish in sixth place.

That means Perez is now third in the drivers championship, nine points behind Leclerc and only seven points ahead of George Russell as things tighten up in the battle up for the runners-up spot in the championship.

In the constructors standings, Verstappen and Perez' combined efforts mean that Red Bull are on 545 points with Ferrari on 406 and Mercedes with 371, with six races remaining in the 2022 championship and Singapore next up on October 2.

“I need a bit of luck for that as well and I don’t think about it," he said of the prospect. "I just want to go to Singapore and try to win that race as well, just have a good time.

"We are having a great season, so we should also really appreciate it and just enjoy the moment," he added. “We want to win more as a team, so we’ll try that.”

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