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Verstappen wins Italian Grand Prix as Leclerc strategy backfires

It's an 11th win of the season for Max Verstappen and fifth in a row as Ferrari's gamble with Charles Leclerc backfired.

Max Verstappen won the Italian Grand Prix for Red Bull as Ferrari's Formula 1 tyre gamble with Charles Leclerc did not pay off. Starting from seventh after his grid penalty, Verstappen was quickly up into the top two by Lap 5 of 53 at Monza, and began to close in on Leclerc who maintained the lead from pole position. Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin retired with an engine problem on Lap 11, triggering a Virtual Safety Car while it was recovered - during which Leclerc pitted to get rid of his Soft Pirellis. Verstappen was told to do the opposite to the Monegasque, and so did not pit and assumed the lead ahead of George Russell. The World Champion made his own switch to Mediums on Lap 25, with Ferrari immediately considering "Plan C" which turned out to be a two-stop strategy. Verstappen had 13 lap fresher tyres than Leclerc and so on Lap 33, the latter pitted again for a set of new Softs. It left him 19.6s behind leader Verstappen, but Leclerc never thereafter showed the requisite pace he required - about one second a lap to hunt the #1 down. Verstappen crossed the line ahead of Leclerc under the Safety Car, with Russell completing the podium places in a quiet race for the Mercedes driver. The race ended behind it as Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren expired at the Lesmo corners on Lap 48. With marshals unable to move the McLaren in time, the field snaked around after a flurry of pitstops, but the race ended under yellow. It is Verstappen's 11th victory of the season from 16 races, and fifth in a row stretching from the French Grand Prix in mid-July.

Hamilton recovers to fifth

Carlos Sainz Jr quickly rocketed through the field, at times picking off a car per lap from 18th after his own penalty. The Ferrari pitted on Lap 31 and dropped to eighth, but was able to make places up again as others made their required pitstops. Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris took advantage of running long on their opening set of Medium tyres to offset a DRS train led by Daniel Ricciardo in the sister McLaren. Ricciardo's train formed early on in the race keeping the likes of Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso from running in clear air. The AlphaTauri triggered the pitstops on Lap 19, but a slow stop meant he emerged Ricciardo on the Hard tyres. Knowing they would emerge at the rear of the train if they responded immediately, Hamilton and Norris elected to run long and create a tyre offset and allow them to switch to Softs. Hamilton did so on Lap 34, with Norris doing so two laps later. Although they came out behind the Ricciardo train, they were able to utilise their new Softs to pick off those ahead. Hamilton eventually ran sixth, but Sergio Perez was forced into a second stop after doing so on Lap 7 to rectify over-heating brakes. This promoted the Mercedes to fifth, with Perez sixth and Norris seventh. Gasly took eighth for AlphaTauri, as Nyck de Vries scored points on his F1 debut for Williams. He did briefly complain of a long brake pedal, but the Formula E champion was able to drive a composed race to come home ninth, with Zhou Guanyu 10th.

Bad day for Alpine

Although Monza was expected to suit Alpine's package, it came away with no points as Fernando Alonso retired with water pressure issues and Esteban Ocon was only 11th. Ocon was trapped in the Ricciardo train, and could not break free, finishing ahead of Mick Schumacher's Haas. Valtteri Bottas was only 13th for Alfa Romeo at their home race, with Yuki Tsunoda 14th for AlphaTauri. Nicholas Latifi and Kevin Magnussen were the final finishers in 15th and 16th place. There were four non-finishers in Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Alonso and Vettel.

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