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  • Writer's pictureBen Waterworth

Italian Grand Prix talking points: Another Monza masterpiece

An exciting Italian Grand Prix is in the books and more history was created. There was added fuel to a rivalry fire that has seemed dormant for a while, and what may become one of the greatest achievements in all of sport became a step closer.

Let’s get to the Italian Grand Prix talking points.

A classic, exciting race

That was one race I’d love to watch again.

Some intense, fast action at the front, exciting passes in the middle and back. That’s what Formula 1 is about.

For the opening 14 laps we were treated to a tense cat & mouse game between Red Bull & Ferrari as Carlos Sainz attempted to hold on to the lead.

While we all knew what was coming and what would happen, it was exciting to watch Max Verstappen just bide his time, get close to Sainz and attempt him into a mistake in order to finally make the move.

(Photo by Getty Images)

A mistake that eventually happened on lap 14 as Sainz locked up heading into turn 1, but it wasn’t over from there.

The remainder of the race had similar battles happening all through the field, with strategy also playing a key factor into the outcome of positioning and further battles.

While this aspect has never gone away from the sport, it felt truly old school in the way that we weren’t relying on modern gimmicks like DRS, sprint races or compulsorily tyre changes in order to create drama.

Further proof that the sport doesn’t always need a ‘Netlfix reboot’ in order to maintain excitement.

Rosberg curse strikes again

Besides the obvious fact that Red Bull remains undefeated so we knew Red Bull would win and not Ferrari, the other glaring factor came from a certain 2016 World Champion cursing Ferrari to the lower steps on the rostrum on Sunday.

For those unaware, a curious case of coincidence has happened this season when Nico Rosberg posts a selfie supporting a particular team during a race weekend.

Back in Hungary, Rosberg posted a selfie outside of Verstappen’s garage showing support ahead of qualifying. Verstappen then failed to take pole position for the first time in six races.

The following day he did the same outside of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton’s garage. Hamilton then failed to convert his pole into a victory.

McLaren took this joke even further by posting signs around their garages, banning the German from taking selfies near their garages.

In Monza, it happened again.

(Photo by Getty Images)

On Saturday, Rosberg once again showed support for Verstappen and Red Bull with a selfie. The result? Pole position for Ferrari, not Verstappen.

Then on Sunday? Rosberg posted a selfie showing support for Ferrari to take the Italian win. The winner? Red Bull.

Perhaps Nico needs to do his Sunday selfie for Red Bull to help those fans out who are sick of seeing the Austrian team win.

History beckons for Verstappen

I love my post-race history watch. And this one is especially great.

As I’m sure everyone is aware of, Verstappen set a new benchmark of wins in a row, claiming an astonishing tenth consecutive victory in Monza.

This was also his 12th win in 2023, meaning he is now only one win behind the previous benchmark for most wins in a season of 13 held by Michael Schumacher (2004) and Sebastian Vettel (2013).

I say previous because who broke that record last year with 15 wins in a season? Verstappen of course.

With 8 rounds remaining, it’s scary to think just how many wins he could have at the end of the year. To put it into context, this time last season he had only won nine races, adding a further six in the final eight races of the year. If he stays on track for that in 2023, that would mean 18 wins in a single season. 20 years ago we only had 17 races a year in total. Incredible.

Red Bull also extended their win streak to 15, and won their 14th consecutive race from the beginning of the season to keep the 100% season alive.

They currently sit in ninth for most wins in a single season with this record. By winning in Singapore they will join the longstanding previous record of 15 wins in a season that was held by McLaren (1988) and Ferrari (2002 & 2004). Mercedes also joined the 15-win-in-a-season club in 2019.

(Photo by Getty Images)

But 15 is child’s play in 2023. Mercedes achieved two 16 win seasons (2014 & 2015), Red Bull achieved a 17 win season last year, while the record sits at a whopping 19 wins in a season by Mercedes in 2016, a season where they only lost two races.

Let’s see how things keep tracking over the final eight rounds.

Rivalry reignited

Martin Brundle made a comment during the coverage when Max Verstappen made an easy pass on Lewis Hamilton for position during the race.

“How two years makes a difference” he said in reference to the fact that only two years ago at the same race, both Verstappen and Hamilton famously took each other out of the race in the midst of their heated battle for the 2021 World Championship.

And while the flashpoint of that rivalry has long been extinguished, there are still signs that it bubbles under the surface for both drivers, as well as the teams they drive for.

During an interview ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton made comment on the fact that he had more difficult teammates to beat during his period of dominance in the 2010s, when comparing to Vertappen’s current dominance in the sport.

Verstappen responded to this claiming he “doesn’t care” what Hamilton says and claimed that perhaps Hamilton was just “jealous” of his current success.

Added to this were the comments from Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff that Verstappen’s statistic of most consecutive wins in the history of Formula 1 was nothing more than a “Wikipedia stat” that “nobody reads,” with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner responding by saying “we shouldn’t from that in any way” in dismissing the comments made by Wolff.

So while we’re not seeing the battles on track we saw two years ago, it’s great to see there is still no love lost between the two former foes.

Let’s hope Lawson isn’t De Vries 2.0

Kiwi Liam Lawson put in a great performance across the Italian Grand Prix as he continues to fill in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo.

Qualifying only one spot behind his AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda by only a couple of tenths, Lawson put in a solid Sunday performance to finish in 11th place, only 6.6 seconds behind a point for tenth.

It was encouraging for Lawson who is doing everything he needs to do to find himself potentially in that seat permanently in 2024.

The only issue is, we’ve been here before haven’t we? A strong drive from a driver in Monza that got AlphaTauri excited enough to sign on the driver for a permanent seat the next season?

And yes, while there are many differences between Lawson and DeVries and what happened last year, there still needs to be a cautious approach over one performance and what it could ultimately mean for a full time driver.

With Daniel Ricciardo now not looking likely to return until the October stretch of races, Lawson still has a couple of races to prove he is worthy of a longer stint in that car than he is currently getting.

Let’s just hope that AlphaTauri has learnt from past mistakes in the meantime.

This article was originally written for The Roar. You can read the published version here


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