Formula 1 history was made Sunday at the Temple of Speed.
Max Verstappen took home the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, marking his tenth straight victory in F1 and setting a new record in the process. Having tied Sebastian Vettel’s mark of nine straight wins last week in the Dutch Grand Prix, Verstappen went into the heart of Ferrari country and in front of a crowd willing Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc to the front of the field, put his name into the record books.
That certainly makes Verstappen one of this week’s winners, but he is not alone.
Winners: Red Bull
Another 2023 Grand Prix.
Another Red Bull 1-2 finish.
For the sixth time this season, the Bulls put their two drivers on the top steps of the podium, with Verstappen and Pérez again pulling away from the field. But on this Sunday, the pair had to fight more than they have had in recent weeks. Yet, both drivers played the long game, first with Verstappen tracking down Sainz for the lead, and later with Pérez fighting his way by the Ferrari pole-sitter to get into second place.
On some other days, and in some other seasons, disaster might have resulted for one or both drivers.
But not today.
Loser: Yuki Tsunoda
Poor Yuki Tsunoda.
His day ended before it began.
Tsunoda’s AT04 suffered an engine failure on the formation lap, bringing Tsnoda’s Italian Grand Prix to a close before he could complete a lap. That touched off a lengthy delay as marshals worked to get his AT04 off the track, and resulted in the Italian Grand Prix being shortened by two laps.
But that matters not for Tsunoda. What does matter? The fact that he had to watch teammate Liam Lawson, in just his second F1 race, finish in P11.
In the two races the duo has been together, Lawson has finished ahead of him.
When AlphaTauri made the shocking move to sack Nyck de Vries midseason, many believed it was to get a better feel for Tsunoda’s performance. Just two races do not tell the complete story, but this has been a shaky stretch for Tsunoda.
Winner: Valtteri Bottas
How about a little love for Valtteri Bottas?
Saturday was a tough afternoon for Alfa Romeo, as Zhou Guanyu was eliminated in Q1 and Bottas was knocked out in Q2, forcing him to start the Italian Grand Prix in P14. But he made the most of the race, working up to P10 to bring home some much-needed points for the team.
Coming out of the August shutdown, Alfa Romeo made it clear that their battle was with Williams and Haas for seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship. The recent form from Alex Albon has seen Williams edge ahead in that fight, but Sunday’s tenth-place finish pulls Alfa Romeo to within one point of Haas.
Every point counts.
Losers: Aston Martin
Saturday was a tough day for the team, as Lance Stroll failed to advance out of Q1 and qualified in last place for the Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso managed to advance to Q3, but could only manage a tenth-place start.
The situation barely improved on Sunday. Stroll finished at the back of the field in P16, and while Alonso improved one spot on the grid to finish ninth, that had more to do with a collision between Lewis Hamilton and Oscar Piastri that dropped the McLaren rookie out of the points than anything else.
Taking a step back, the team is locked in a battle with Mercedes and Ferrari in the Constructors’ standings, and this week was a setback for them. Aston Martin entered the Italian Grand Prix in third place, 40 points behind Mercedes and just 4 points ahead of the Scuderia.
With George Russell and Hamilton finishing in fifth and sixth place respectively, the Silver Arrows picked up 18 points at Monza, compared to just two for Alonso’s ninth-place finish.
As for Ferrari, with Carlos Sainz Jr. finishing third and Charles Leclerc finishing fourth, they took home 27 points for their effort in their home race.
The end result? Mercedes remains in second while Aston Martin slides down to fourth.
Aston Martin believes some better tracks are ahead for the AMR23, such as Singapore. But after such a promising start to the season, and coming off a podium a week ago for Alonso, this has been a much tougher weekend for them.
Given how the day started — with Sainz in pole position and Leclerc in third — finishing third and fourth might feel like a loss.
But during this season, making Verstappen fight for a win counts as a moral victory, which makes Ferrari one of today’s winners.
Let’s face it: This could have ended much differently for Ferrari. There were some tense moments along the way for the Scuderia, as they faced some tricky strategy calls early in the race and the Tifosi had to see Sainz and Leclerc fight down to the end for that podium. But they managed to avoid disaster, giving Sainz his first podium of the season while coming away with 27 critical points in the Constructors’ standings.
Points which, as noted above, pushed them above Aston Martin for third.
Sure, it would have made for a great story if Ferrari could have denied Verstappen’s history-making moment at Monza. But in this season, making him fight more than he has before is considered a win.
This has been a brutal weekend for Alpine.
Struggles from the team on Saturday continued on Sunday. The duo of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly started at the back of the field, with both drivers failing to advance out of Q1.
Things did not improve on Sunday. Ocon retired early, finishing just 40 laps at Monza. Gasly ran at the back of the field the entire race, and managed just a 15th-place finish.
Perhaps no team will be happier to see Monza in the rear-view mirror than Alpine.
Winner: Max Verstappen
What else is there to say?
F1 fans were treated to history on Sunday, witnessing something the sport has never seen. Ten straight victories for Verstappen, setting a new standard in F1.
Yes, some may still dismiss the accomplishment. They might point to the strength of the RB19 when compared to the rest of the field and in particular the RB19’s massive DRS advantage. They might point to the struggles and inconsistencies we have seen from other teams, which have perhaps made life a bit easier for Verstappen at the front of the field.
Yet, when you consider everything that goes into an F1 weekend — and everything that can go wrong — ten straight wins is an incredible achievement. A standard of consistency that is hard to contemplate. And on this Sunday, much like the previous Sunday at Zandvoort, Verstappen had to fight a bit more for the win. Last week it was chaos and weather, this week it was Ferrari, urged on by the home crowd, who forced Verstappen to play the long game.
Which he did. To perfection.