Verstappen wins Italian Grand Prix for 1st time
Sports Desk, Sep 11 (EFE).- The top-ranked Formula One driver, Max Verstappen of The Netherlands and driving for Red Bull, on Sunday won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza for the first time, coming in ahead of pole position Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc, of Monaco, and Carlos Sainz, of Spain.
The 53-lap race ended with the security car on track after Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo, with McLaren and the winner of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, developed a mechanical problem in the 47th lap and had to have his car removed with a crane because it was stuck in gear and unable to be rolled away.
Verstappen, who is counting the days before being able to clinch the world F1 title again, on Sunday consolidated his position at the top of the rankings with his 11th win in 16 races even though he started the race with a five-place grid penalty for too many new car parts on his vehicle.
The Dutchman had started the race 109 points in front of both “Checo” Perez and Leclerc, and with the 25 points he pocketed at Monza he now has a 116-point lead over Leclerc – who grabbed 18 points in the race.
Leclerc, who had started in the coveted pole position for the eighth time so far this season, had to content himself with second place, and British driver George Russell, with Mercedes, came in third, with Sainz in fourth.
Verstappen’s countryman Nyck de Vries, who replaced Williams driver Alexander Albon, from Thailand, who is out with appendicitis, was making his F1 debut and did relatively well, coming in ninth.
Verstappen started in the eighth spot but moved up three places on the very first lap, and by the fifth only Leclerc was in front of him after he passed Russell.
Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, with Aston Martin, had to abandon the race on Lap 12 and, with the security car on the track, Leclerc stopped to change tires but Verstappen and Russell opted to continue. Leclerc also had to go to the pit lane during the second half of the race.
British driver Lewis Hamilton, with Mercedes, captured the attention of the crowd by moving up from the 19th position in back of the pack to finish in fifth place, just ahead of Mexico’s Perez, Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, who had started in 13th place.
This was the last European race this season, but now the F1 season will continue with seven more races, including the Singapore Grand Prix on Oct. 2, where Verstappen could potentially clinch the title.