NB | “Without a strategic blunder, Ferrari could have made it much more difficult for Verstappen”

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Max Verstappen has set another impressive record. After the Dutchman won his ninth Grand Prix in a row in his own country last week, Verstappen also triumphed in Monza in Italy yesterday. The Red Bull Racing driver is now the first driver to win a Grand Prix ten times in a row, although he had to fight hard for it. Elsewhere in the field there were also the necessary fights and incidents, so there is more than enough to talk about in the review with editor-in-chief Mark Hanselman.

Verstappen continues to dominate, doesn’t that make the season a bit boring?

‘Absolutely not, as far as I’m concerned. There’s plenty to enjoy all season long, and what Verstappen is up to will only make the 2023 season more historic. Of course, a season like 2021 is also great for completely different reasons, but every time Verstappen wins, this season becomes more special. In thirty years’ time, there will be no more talk about 2017, 2018 or 2019, but 2023 will always be a unique season, and the more Verstappen dominates, the more that will be the case.’

“There are also (less) dominant seasons that are downright boring, but I really can’t say that this year. We’ve had 14 weekends now and I can’t really remember a boring qualifying. Saturdays are always a feast, and Sundays are often difficult to predict. Yes, the winner is obvious, but ten different drivers have already stood on the podium, and behind Verstappen it sometimes seems like a big lottery. The perfect combination of impressive dominance and unpredictable developments.’

Could Ferrari have done more than this?

‘Whether there would have been a better result cannot be said with certainty, of course, but the team did not exactly play it out strategically. It all started, of course, with Carlos Sainz’s mistake, who otherwise had a more than excellent race. If the Spaniard had not made that mistake, Ferrari could have worked towards the pit stops with an excess situation. As soon as Sainz made a mistake, lost the lead, and destroyed his tires quite a bit, Ferrari should have switched strategically.

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After this moment, Ferrari should have intervened immediately.

“If Sainz had been brought in right away, he could have put an undercut on Verstappen and taken back track position. Then Red Bull would have had to choose whether to bring Verstappen in to give Leclerc free rein, while Verstappen had taken place behind Sainz without a significant tire advantage, or whether Verstappen should have continued, and then Ferrari could also have gone for an undercut with Leclerc in the next round. For example, Ferrari could have checkedmate Red Bull at least temporarily. Instead, Sainz held up Leclerc for three more laps, with no instructions to let him pass, and by the time Sainz finally stopped, Red Bull could simply react at Verstappen. Ferrari makes it very easy for Red Bull. Without a strategic blunder, Ferrari could have made it much more difficult for Verstappen.’

Remarkably, Red Bull also chose not to let Pérez drive much longer, so that the Mexican ended up behind both home favorites without a serious tire advantage. That offered Ferrari a chance to take second and third place, but the team was not sharp here either. Sainz drove away from the DRS at Leclerc, after which both men were screwed. If Sainz and Leclerc had worked together on instructions from the team, they would have had a much better chance of holding onto those spots.

Was the penalty for Hamilton justified?

“The punishment was justified, but in my opinion not severe enough. Lewis Hamilton simply sends in for Oscar Piastri, while the Australian is still next to him. That cost Piastri his race, because after looking for the pit lane he was no longer eligible for a place in the top ten. What else was this needed from Hamilton? He had the inside of the corner and was diagonally in front of Piastri, so he had already won that place anyway. He only risked ending his race prematurely, thus making another victim. In the end, the Briton just kept his sixth place due to a rather meager penalty, and is thus only more stimulated to keep doing these kinds of antics. Such a mistake must cost points, and that was not the case now. It’s unbelievable that Hamilton escapes again without serious punishment.’

“This is certainly not the first time this has happened. Silverstone 2021 is probably still etched in the memory of many fans, where Hamilton forcefully knocked title competitor Verstappen out of the race, and then undone his much too meager penalty without serious competition and thus took the full prize. Alexander Albon suffered trauma from Hamilton during his Red Bull period, after he saw a top result go up in smoke in Austria and Brazil. Hamilton also received only meager penalties at the time. In 2010, Fernando Alonso and Ferrari spoke of a scandal, after Hamilton overtook the safety car in Valencia, and the penalty was nowhere near the advantage that Hamilton took, and there are many more examples.

Who stood out behind the top four positively?

‘A good result was already expected from Albon, but nevertheless the way in which he manages to do it again is very strong. Albon clearly did not have the same pace as the McLaren drivers and Fernando Alonso, but with his seventh place he takes crucial points for Williams. The former Red Bull driver has now raked in 21 points for Williams, while Logan Sargeant is still nil both on points and in qualifying. How much patience does Williams still have with the American?’

“In addition, Valtteri Bottas and Liam Lawson did well. I personally think it’s a shame that the usually colorless Finn had just chosen the Grand Prix of Italy to perform at a level, because I would have given Lawson his point. Twelfth place in qualifying and eleventh place in the Grand Prix is ​​already strong in that car, but especially if you take into account that this is his first full weekend. Yuki Tsunoda did not participate, so that comparison was lost, and that is a great pity, will also find Helmut Marko. Secretly it is very convenient for the Austrian that he can now compare the three main candidates, and when I see how close Lawson is already behind Tsunoda, the Japanese must slowly start to fear. If Lawson takes another step forward, he could get himself a permanent seat just like that.’

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