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Verstappen in Schumacher-mode as F1 avoids Abu Dhabi repeat - What we learned at the Italian GP

Verstappen in Schumacher-mode as F1 avoids Abu Dhabi repeat - What we learned at the Italian GP

F1 News

Verstappen in Schumacher-mode as F1 avoids Abu Dhabi repeat - What we learned at the Italian GP

Verstappen in Schumacher-mode as F1 avoids Abu Dhabi repeat - What we learned at the Italian GP

Max Verstappen is potentially just one race away from becoming a two-time F1 world champion after clinching victory at the Italian Grand Prix.

The Dutchman rose from seventh to score a comfortable fifth win in succession while making his first trip onto the Monza podium.

Charles Leclerc finished second in what became a needlessly contentious end to the race.

But with the championship all but wrapped up, here is what we learned in Italy.

Verstappen's Schumacher-like dominance

There is no doubting the magnificence of Verstappen on his current form.

The reigning champion has been nigh-on untouchable whenever he gets behind the wheel of the Red Bull as of late, taking wins from pole, the midfield and even the back of the grid.

Even a five-place grid penalty never threatened his victory, no matter how romantic a Ferrari win in front of the Tifosi would have been.

Starting seventh, Verstappen reached third by the first corner of lap two and overtook George Russell's Mercedes to take second on lap five.

It feels like everything that both team and driver are doing is working and there is an eerie resemblance to the domination of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari - but who can stop Verstappen?

Abu Dhabi repeat avoided

The Italian Grand Prix ended in a controversial fashion behind the safety car.

The FIA has come under fire from all directions in the aftermath which, other than that there was a small delay in deploying the safety car, is wholly unfair.

In Abu Dhabi last season, the fact rules weren't followed as per the letter of the law created ire and frustration and ended in race director Michael Masi losing his job.

Let's be under no illusion that there were no rules broken at Monza by the FIA, so it seems farfetched to be overhyping the severity of the failings.

Should the safety car have been called a lap sooner? Yes, of course. But with the order shuffling as cars pitted, there would have been no guarantee of restarting the race anyway - even if it was more than likely.

Listening to team principals would make you believe there was a crisis brewing. In reality, the FIA has far bigger issues to solve than a slow safety car reaction.

Ferrari waving white flag

If Ferrari's strategy and team radio is anything to go by, the Scuderia has almost given up trying to beat Verstappen and Red Bull in a straight fight.

The calls to Leclerc suggesting that if 'Verstappen goes plan C, we will go plan B' shows that a differential is needed just to be hopeful of standing on the top step of the podium.

When a virtual safety car was deployed on lap 12, Leclerc pulled into the pits to switch onto a bold two-stop strategy. This ultimately took the Monégasque out of the fight.

This is not a slight on the Scuderia as there was nothing more the team could do. It had to try and counter Red Bull with an opposing strategy but the RB18 was simply too quick.

A positive was Carlos Sainz's charge through the field from 18th to fourth. The Spaniard scythed through during his first stint and looks the form driver at Maranello as of late.

De Vries job interview passed with flying colours

What a weekend for Nyck de Vries.

The Dutchman was placed at Aston Martin for one of the team's obligatory rookie runs in FP1, spending the hour harvesting data for the Silverstone-based outfit.

But when Alex Albon was hospitalised with appendicitis on Saturday morning, de Vries was called up by Williams to make his F1 debut.

The Mercedes reserve driver has been touted for a seat over the last few years since winning the F2 championship in 2019 but his on-track audition could not have been better.

Unfamiliarity with the steering wheel controls cost a top 10 place in qualifying but penalties shuffled de Vries back up to eighth.

A spirited drive would result in a ninth-place finish - holding off Zhou Guanyu for virtually the entire race.

Stocks have risen in the F1 sphere for the former Formula E world champion, will he be on the grid next year?

Penalty system needs an overhaul

The penalty system needs an overhaul after the farce that was figuring out the qualifying results on Sunday.

Nearly four hours passed as the FIA deliberated on who would start where with nine drivers taking hits.

Only Leclerc started where he qualified which made a mockery of qualifying. Change is needed purely to assist fans - many new as F1's popularity surges - in understanding how the grid is set.

This is far more pressing than any minor safety car error.

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