Max Verstappen sealed his fifth straight Formula 1 victory as the Red Bull driver took the chequered flag at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza after starting from seventh place to further extend his championship lead to 116 points over his nearest rival Charles Leclerc.
The Dutchman secured the win after he battled to the front from the midfield despite taking a grid penalty after qualifying, with his strategy proving to be superior to Leclerc's in the Ferrari, who finished in second. George Russell picked up yet another podium for Mercedes as he came home in third.
Coming into the race, there was a serious shake-up on the grid after qualifying, as many drivers were taking penalties due to component changes. Verstappen, who finished second in qualifying on Saturday, dropped down to seventh after an engine (ICE) change. Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari started from P18 after changes to his gearbox and ERS, Lewis Hamilton started from 19th, and Sergio Perez started in 13th - also due to an ICE change. Leclerc started on pole, with Russell moving up to P3 on the grid after initially qualifying in 6th.
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Leclerc got the better start when the lights went out, and led the pack into Turn 1, ahead of Russell and Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren. Verstappen, who knew he had the quickest car despite his starting position, hastily made up places on the opening laps of the Grand Prix and found his way up into second behind Leclerc just five laps into the race.
Sainz also made a flying start in the Ferrari, making up nine places in the first ten laps to move up into seventh place. Then, on lap 12, Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin pulled over to the side of the track with a mechanical issue which forced him to retire the car. That triggered a virtual safety car, which saw Ferrari opt to call in Leclerc six laps before his pit window opened for a fresh set of medium tyres.
The idea from the Ferrari pit wall was to try and see if Leclerc could get to the end of the race on the one-stop strategy. He came back out behind Verstappen and Russell in P3.
Verstappen, who led the race, opted to come in for a set of medium tyres on lap 26, which saw him emerge back out in second place, around ten seconds behind Leclerc. Red Bull's strategy was for their driver to manage the tyres until the end of the race.
However, it was all change for Ferrari on Lap 34, as Leclerc decided to go with an alternative strategy. The Monegasque driver came in for a set of soft tyres in an attempt to close the gap to Verstappen, who had the slower compound fitted. The gamble did not seem to work for Ferrari, as Leclerc was unable to close the gap below 17 seconds as the final part of the race arrived.
Then, on Lap 47, Ricciardo in the McLaren reported an engine issue, and pulled his car over to the side of the track between the two Lesmo corners. It triggered a late safety car, which had the potential to shake the order up at the front.
Both front runners opted to take advantage of it, and fitted sets of scrub soft tyres to their cars, with the hope of a shootout for track position once the safety car period had ended. Unfortunately for them, the marshals had to take their time to clear the stricken McLaren from the circuit, and the race directors decided that the race would finish under the safety car.
On Lap 53, Verstappen crossed the line under yellow flags to seal his 11th victory of the 2022 season, with Leclerc just behind in second, and Russell in third. A stellar drive from Hamilton after starting 19th saw him finish in a respectable P5, with Sainz also getting a good points haul in the sister Ferrari as he finished in fourth.
The tifosi in the Monza grandstands were unhappy with how the race concluded, as boos were heard around the circuit in the closing stages. Verstappen can now mathematically secure his second world championship title at the next race in Singapore in three weeks' time.

DRIVER OF THE DAY - NYCK DE VRIES

Nyck de Vries (Williams) ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at the Circuit de Monza in Monza, Italy.

Image credit: Getty Images

There has to be an honourable mention for Nyck De Vries, who stood in for Alex Albon at Williams during qualifying and the race due to the latter suffering with appendicitis. The Dutchman, who was thrown in at the deep end for his first F1 race, performed well in qualifying. After the various grid drops around him, the Williams started in eighth.
The 2020-21 Formula E champion then drove a superb race to maintain his pace to the cars around him and became the 67th driver in Formula 1 history to score points on his debut, as he came home in ninth place to secure some extremely valuable points for the team.

WHERE THE RACE WAS WON AND LOST

LAP 1/53 - We are underway here in Monza. Leclerc gets off the line well and leads into Turn 1. Russell tries to get past, but has to take the escape road and cut the chicane. Ricciardo is up to third, with Verstappen already up to fourth! Norris has an awful start from P3 and he is now down in sixth.
LAP 5/53 - VERSTAPPEN UP TO P2 - Verstappen is flying here as he gets past Russell down into Turn 1. He is already up into second place, and he is just two seconds down the road from Leclerc, who remains out in front. The Dutchman has already made up five positions.
LAP 13/53 - LECLERC PITS - The Ferrari driver decides to pit under the virtual safety car, and fits the medium tyre. The green flag is waved for the drivers to resume racing, but Leclerc comes out back in front of Ricciardo and in P3. He may be trying to go for the one-stop until the end, but we'll see how long these tyres last.
LAP 26/53 - VERSTAPPEN PITS - The race leader pits for a set of mediums, and he emerges back out in P2, around ten seconds behind Leclerc. Let's see how this stint plays out.
LAP 34/53 - LECLERC PITS AGAIN - Leclerc opts to scrap the one-stop strategy, and he comes in for a set of soft tyres until the end of the Grand Prix. He emerges back out ahead of Russell and is in P2. Verstappen takes the lead of the race, and he is 19 seconds ahead of the Ferrari. Can Leclerc close the gap?
LAP 41/53 - It is now Max's race to lose here. Leclerc has not been able to close the gap to the race leader, as it remains at 17 seconds with 11 laps to go.
LAP 47/53 - SAFETY CAR - Ricciardo reports an engine issue and he pulls over by the Lesmo corners. Teams look like they are getting ready in the pits. We have a safety car! This could change everything.
LAP 49/53 - BOTH FRONT RUNNERS PIT - Verstappen also comes in for a fresh set of soft tyres under the safety car. Leclerc comes in later in the lap for the same tyres. Will the race resume with four laps left?
LAP 53/53 - FINAL LAP - It has been relayed to Leclerc over the radio that the race will finish behind the safety car. He, understandably, is upset about that decision.

OVERTAKE OF THE DAY

LAP 37/53 - DOUBLE OVERTAKE - Best overtake of the race so far. Norris pits from P4, but a slow stop by the McLaren mechanics means he fails to clear both his team-mate and Gasly! Hamilton, who is just behind them, capitalises and gets past both Norris and Gasly with one move down into the Curva Grande. Brilliant stuff. He is up into P7.
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