Italian Grand Prix 2023: Can Max make it ten in a row?
30 August 2023
Italy has always had a presence on Formula 1’s calendar and for the majority of motor-racing history the country’s annual grand prix has taken place at Monza.
The high-speed circuit, located in a leafy royal park to the north of Milan, was first used for motorsport in 1922, and since the inaugural world championship season in 1950 has been absent from Formula 1’s calendar only once, when it was closed for renovation works in 1980.
It also marks Formula 1’s sole visit to Italy this year after May’s planned trip to Imola was cancelled due to extreme storms in the region.
Can Ferrari deliver on home soil?
Monza is unmistakably Ferrari’s terrain. The grandstands are regularly a sea of red, enormous banners are unfurled, while the mere sight of its scarlet cars on track prompts a cacophony of noise. The drivers are mobbed wherever they go, from the hotel, to the paddock, to the pit lane. But Monza has not necessarily been overly kind to Ferrari in recent years.
Charles Leclerc’s victory, which prompted frenzied celebrations in 2019, was Ferrari’s first Monza win in nine years, and it has not added to its tally since. Leclerc started from pole position 12 months ago but he was quickly overhauled by Max Verstappen and had to settle for the runner-up position.
Given the dominance of Verstappen, and Ferrari’s current lowly championship position of fourth, a podium return would mark a good result for Italy’s fabled operation.
A strong circuit for Williams?
Williams has been among the backmarkers for several years but Monza has been a strong circuit thanks to the characteristics of its car. The FW45 has retained the strengths of its predecessor and has rapid straight-line speed, meaning it should go well at a circuit such as Monza.
Alex Albon achieved Williams’ 2023 best of seventh in Canada, and last year super-sub Nyck de Vries scored ninth on his debut, so keep an eye out for the team being in contention for a haul of points. It could be a good chance for rookie Logan Sargeant – who has experience of the circuit from junior formula – to grab his first point.
Another different winner?
Red Bull has dominated this season but let’s stick to a glimmer of competitive hope. Five different drivers across five different teams have won the last five grands prix at Monza.
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Leclerc (Ferrari), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) and Verstappen (Red Bull) have stood atop the podium across 2018-22.
Gasly’s win was a true shock – aided by Safety Car and red flag timings – while Ricciardo and McLaren executed a perfect weekend to take a similarly unexpected triumph. Hamilton shares the record of five Monza wins with Michael Schumacher.
However, Verstappen enters the weekend chasing history, as he strives to become the first driver in history to win 10 successive grands prix. Verstappen has everything in his favour to set a new benchmark this weekend and rack up yet another win and cement his place in the record books.
Back Max Verstappen pole position and victory
Back Charles Leclerc podium finish @ 3.55
30 August 2023