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Italian Grand Prix 2023

Verstappen history beckons - What to expect at the Italian Grand Prix

Verstappen could break an F1 record and Ferrari faces a chastening homecoming. Here's what to expect at Monza!

Verstappen Zandvoort win
Article
To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen extended his F1 championship lead to 138 points with victory at the Dutch Grand Prix and eyes a place in the F1 history books when arriving at Monza this weekend.

The Dutchman has been unopposable since the Miami Grand Prix and looks set to secure a third world title well before the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

F1's chasing pack has fluctuated from race to race this season, so what should we expect at the Italian Grand Prix?

Timetable Italian GP

Session Date Time
Free practice 1 Friday 1 September -
Free practice 2 Friday 1 September -
Free practice 3 Saturday 2 September -
Qualification Saturday 2 September -
Race Sunday 3 September -

Verstappen record

It is hard to believe that Verstappen won't take sole ownership of the record for most consecutive victories in F1 history at Monza this weekend given his stunning run of form.

Not even two downpours and a red flag could shuffle the pack against the two-time champion at his home race - a race of such jeopardy providing the type of opportunities rivals had been longing for all season.

So Verstappen enters another race week knowing he could become the first driver in history to secure 10 wins in a row, a streak stretching back to the Miami Grand Prix in May.

His qualifying efforts in Belgium and Zandvoort suggest Saturday will pose no problems, leaving what should be a clear run to victory for him - with 15 of the past 23 pole-sitters scoring in Italy, a return better than Monaco.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Ferrari fightback

The situation at Ferrari is a far cry from Red Bull's jubilation, with a dreadful weekend only just salvaged by a top-five for Carlos Sainz.

Charles Leclerc's race was a mess from start to finish - contact on the opening lap led to huge damage before a botched pit stop, which was down to a late call from the driver, saw him tumble down the field.

A lack of pace stemming from missing downforce would lead to Leclerc's retirement, but Sainz's concession that the SF-23 wasn't even in the top half of the pecking order on pace leaves Ferrari susceptible for a chastening return to its home race in front of the Tifosi and national press.

So surely there is no way the Scuderia can hit the lows of Zandvoort again at Monza? Form before the summer break suggests podiums are achievable and having either Leclerc or Sainz in the top three would be sound relief for all involved.

Williams revival to continue

Williams' performance at Zandvoort was nothing short of spectacular when the track characteristics are analysed.

Given the Grove-based outfit's typical car strengths, the Dutch Grand Prix was expected to be one of the most challenging on the calendar, yet a double Q3 appearance - Logan Sargeant's first in F1 - and pace in the race outlined just how far the team has come under James Vowles this season.

Sargeant's crash in the race was down to a hydraulic failure and Albon finished as low as eight only through strategy. The fact there was disappointment from a points finish proves the level the team is operating and bodes well ahead of Monza - a circuit that should suit the FW45.

More points should not be dismissed.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Qualifying mess

As is traditional at Monza, expect a messy end to qualifying.

With such importance placed on slipstreaming to secure the best lap time, there is usually a mass of traffic when preparing for the final qualifying lap of the session.

Q3 in 2019 was the worst example, where only Sainz and Leclerc made the line to start a final lap after a nine-car game of cat and mouse ensued in the dying seconds.

The following year was no better as drivers fought to get a lap in at the end of Q1 as if there was a race on.

Traffic at races this term provides no optimism that such situations can be avoided, so race control will have to be on the lookout to ensure safe completion of the session.

A dry weekend?

There hasn't been a completely dry weekend for F1 since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, taking in nine Grands Prix.

The worst of the rain has hit in the past two rounds, with delays triggered by deluges in Belgium and the Netherlands but unfortunately, various weather forecasts predict different outcomes.

If it is dry for once, full preparation through practice should be possible for the first time since Baku, which could shake up the pecking order again.

Could the sun stop Verstappen? Probably not!

F1 2023 Italian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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