Red Bull’s Max Verstappen broke a Formula 1 record with his 10th consecutive win as he overcame Ferrari’s valiant challenge at the Italian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman was held back by pole-winner Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari for 14 laps but his pressure paid off when an error from the Spaniard gave him his chance.
Sainz locked his brakes into the first chicane and that allowed Verstappen to pass the Ferrari into the second chicane at Monza.
Sainz, after forcefully holding on to second place from team-mate Charles Leclerc, was left to fend off Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez for second place.
After many laps of defence, Sainz finally lost the position with nine laps to go and then set about fighting hard again to keep Leclerc behind for the final podium place.
It was frantic at times as Sainz hung on with worn tyres, and eventually the Spaniard pleaded to his team to let him “bring it home”. Leclerc was told: “Race until the end, no risk.”
Sainz clung on with some desperate late braking moves into the first chicane, and eventually the fight was settled at the start of the final lap.
Leclerc sold the dummy to Sainz at the first chicane but the Spaniard moved to defend and Leclerc had to lock all his brakes and cut the chicane to avoid his partner. Leclerc crossed the line just 0.1secs behind.
Mercedes’ George Russell drove a steady race to take fifth, overcoming a five-second penalty for leaving the track when passing Esteban Ocon after leaving the pits.
Lewis Hamilton impressed on an inverted strategy, starting on the hard tyre and switching to the medium, to pass the McLarens and Alex Albon’s Williams to take sixth.
Hamilton also earned a five-second penalty for colliding with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri when passing him at the second chicane but had enough of a margin to keep the place.
Albon clung on ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris, while Fernando Alonso had his most anonymous race of the season to take ninth in the Aston Martin ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.
Piastri had to pit to repair damage after the Hamilton incident and finished 12th behind Liam Lawson’s Alpha Tauri.
Verstappen’s 10th win in a row moves him clear of Sebastian Vettel’s total of nine, also achieved in a Red Bull, in the 2013 season.
Asked about his achievement, Verstappen said: “I never would have believed that was possible but we had to work for it today and that made it definitely a lot more fun.
“We had good pace, I think we were good on the tyres but [Ferrari] had a lot of top speed, it was so hard to get close and get a move on into Turn One so I had to force him into a mistake.”
Red Bull have now won all 14 races so far this season.
Ferrari put up a strong fight against the all-conquering Red Bull team at their home race with by far their most competitive showing of the season.
Their hope was for Leclerc, starting third, to pass Verstappen into the first corner and set up a one-two at the front of the field, from which they might be able to play strategy against Verstappen.
But Verstappen made a strong start, and Sainz had to chop across quickly to prevent the Dutchman claiming the inside line for an attack at the first corner.
The lead secured, Sainz was faced with a challenging opening stint trying to hold Verstappen off for as long as possible.
Verstappen tracked the Ferrari, rarely more than 0.5secs behind. He tried the outside on lap six, only to be rebuffed, and complained to his team about the Ferrari’s straight-line speed.
But eventually his pressure paid off. Sainz locked his right front wheel on the way into the first chicane at the start of lap 15, and that allowed Verstappen to get a better exit out of the corner.
Verstappen drew alongside on the flat-out run through the Curva Grande and claimed the lead down the inside of the Roggia chicane.
Once Verstappen was into the lead, the destiny of the race win was no longer in doubt – if it ever really had been – and the uncertainty was now over the remaining podium positions.
Verstappen now leads Perez in the championship by 145 points as his third drivers’ title draws ever closer.
An intense fight between the Ferraris
Leclerc began to challenge Sainz once Verstappen was past, but the Spaniard rebuffed his advances and they pitted on consecutive laps on laps 20 and 21, Sainz stopping first.
Again Sainz held off Leclerc, who attacked straight after rejoining from his pit stop, and both began to come under pressure from Perez, who had taken 18 laps to pass Russell’s Mercedes for fourth in the first stint before setting after the Ferraris.
Sainz, Leclerc and Perez were running line astern from lap 23, straight after the Mexican’s pit stop.
Perez attacked Leclerc on lap 32, through the first chicane and then tried at the second chicane, only to be held off, but finally managed to pass Leclerc the following lap into the first chicane.
Perez then set after Sainz, who defended hard for lap after lap before the Red Bull finally managed to get close enough to pass the Ferrari down the pit straight and into the first chicane on lap 46.
That left Sainz vulnerable to Leclerc and the Ferraris facing a fight for the honour of finishing on the podium in their home race.
Sainz’s driving was increasingly desperate as he fought his fading tyres, but he was always on the right side of fairness.
Leclerc passed his team-mate into the first chicane the lap after Perez had got past, both cutting the corner, before Sainz then dragged back past on the run to the second chicane.
It was as close as Leclerc was to get. He tried and tried again into the first corner, and while there were perhaps some question marks about a double move and moving under braking as Sainz defended on the final lap, it was a titan’s drive to hang on in the end.