Another Formula 1 race weekend has come and gone, and once again it was Max Verstappen who emerged victorious at the Italian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman started the race down seventh after picking up a five-place penalty, but quickly moved through the field to secure his fifth consecutive win.
Charles Leclerc tried to chase him down, but a late safety car scuppered his chances and he had to settle for second, while George Russell ensured Mercedes took the final podium spot.
Max Verstappen (centre) finished on top of the podium once again, with Charles Leclerc (left) second and George Russell (right) third
It is now only a matter of time before Verstappen completes his second consecutive world title, but the weekend’s action at Monza provided plenty of talking points.
Sportsmail pick six things we learned from the Italian Grand Prix…
Verstappen is in a league of his own
Verstappen started from 14th at Spa last month and went on to win, so it wasn’t a complete shock that he won from seventh this time around.
But it was still quite spectacular in how easily he passed his rivals to take first place.
There always seemed to be a chance that traffic would keep him in front at the start, while Ferrari looked good in qualifying, suggesting Leclerc could take his fourth race win of the season.
Verstappen won again at Monza and is closing in on his second consecutive world title
Indeed, Verstappen admitted before the race that he was aiming for a top-two finish, such was his uncertainty about whether a win was really possible.
However, he moved up to third within two laps, and quickly set his sights on Leclerc. From there, it was just a matter of time before he caught and passed him to take his 11th win of the campaign.
After last year’s thrilling battle with Lewis Hamilton, this season has been a rollercoaster ride for Verstappen and his 116-point advantage at the top of the standings shows how far ahead he is of the rest of the field.
Ferrari’s strategy fails once again
Ferrari have been used to making some really strange strategic calls this season which have cost them valuable points.
It would be harsh to be too critical of them for what happened this weekend, but in the end their one bet didn’t pay off.
When Sebastian Vettel retired his car on lap 12, Ferrari opted to bring Leclerc into the pits while the race was under mock safety car conditions.
Ferrari tried to put Charles Leclerc in early, but their strategy backfired
This meant they didn’t lose much ground to Verstappen, but it also ruled out the possibility of using a one-stop strategy.
Sure enough, Leclerc had to pit again later in the race and by the time he returned to the track he was 20 seconds behind the championship leader.
Ferrari were in constant communication with Leclerc during the race and he seemed quite happy with the calls they made as they mentioned ‘Plan B’ and ‘Plan C’, but whatever they used in the end didn’t work, and it was a a familiar result for Leclerc as he finished second best to Verstappen.
Hamilton comes back
Hamilton had been left cursing his luck after the previous two races before Monza.
At Spa, he collided with Fernando Alonso on the first lap and crashed out of the race. The following week, it looked like he could take his first win of 2022 at the Dutch Grand Prix, but Mercedes’ decision to leave him out on old tires while his rivals backfired as he slipped from first to fourth in closure. rounds.
He needed to get back on track in Italy, but his task was made more difficult when he was handed a penalty which meant he had to start from 19th place.
Lewis Hamilton bounced back from a difficult few weekends to finish fifth
In truth, he didn’t make a particularly impressive start to the race and it looked early on that he would be fighting for minor points at best.
However, he slowly but surely worked his way through the field, executing a move where he overtook Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly at the same time.
He finished fifth, which was realistically the best he could hope for given where he started on the grid. Maybe he could still get that elusive win before the end of the season.
De Vries makes an instant impact
Nyck De Vries only found out he was driving for Williams on Saturday morning.
With Alex Albon suffering from appendicitis, De Vries was called upon to replace him and took his chance.
The Dutchman has pedigree having triumphed in Formula 2 in 2019 and Formula E last year, but Formula 1 is a completely different matter.
Nyck De Vries looked right at home as a Formula 1 driver for Williams at the weekend
His performance at Monza could earn him a regular spot for the team next season
However, he made the step up with absolutely no problems and managed to finish ninth to take two points on his debut as a Williams driver.
To put that into context, Williams’ teammate Nicholas Latifi has gone 16 games this season and has yet to record a point.
There has been speculation that Latifi could be replaced next year and De Vries has certainly put himself in the mix for a regular spot after his display at the weekend.
Ricciardo’s miserable season continues
Daniel Ricciardo can’t catch a break this season.
After nine grid penalties were handed down before Sunday’s race, he moved up to fourth on the starting grid. The opportunity to score important points was right in front of him.
As the race wore on, the likes of Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Hamilton passed him, but he was still comfortably inside the top 10 with just five laps to go.
Daniel Ricciardo looked on course to gain some points but had to stop his car late on
Then his car abandoned him. From looking certain to score some points, Ricciardo had to stop his car on the side of the track with nothing to show for his efforts.
He remains on 19 points from 16 games this season, 69 behind team-mate Norris, and it has undoubtedly been a campaign to forget for the Australian.
He will still be hoping to finish on a high before leaving McLaren at the end of the year, but will need a change in fortune to achieve that.
Finishing behind the safety car is boring
When Ricciardo stopped with five laps to go, it looked like his misfortune could actually strengthen the race.
Before that, Verstappen had opened up a gap of more than 15 seconds from Leclerc, but the prospect of a safety car coming out for a few laps to gather the field before a sprint finish seemed a distinct possibility.
What actually happened was that the stewards couldn’t move Ricciardo’s car as it was stuck in gear, which led to the rest of the cars going at a snail’s pace for the last five laps behind the safety car. It was a boring end to the race and the Italian crowd, hoping for a Ferrari victory, made their feelings clear as they booed Verstappen afterwards.
It was hardly his fault, but Verstappen must also have known that this could easily have been the same scenario for him in Abu Dhabi last year, only he would have fallen behind Hamilton and the Briton would have won his eighth world title.
Sunday’s race was finished behind the safety car which was boring for the spectators
What this race showed is that finishing behind the safety car is boring and should be avoided as much as possible.
A red flag and restart from a standing start would have been much more exciting viewing, but the stewards allowed the race to come to an unsatisfying end.
If they want to attract more fans to the sport, this was not the way to do it.