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Friday, December 8, 2023

Max Verstappen’s pursuit of F1 historical past is the storyline on the Italian Grand Prix


Only one extra win.

With only one extra win, Max Verstappen won’t solely add one other line to his already-impressive racing resume, however the Purple Bull driver will etch his title within the hallowed halls of Formulation 1 historical past. With a victory in subsequent Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza — the Temple of Pace — Verstappen will safe his tenth-straight win, setting a brand new mark in F1 historical past.

Verstappen tied Sebastian Vettel’s mark of nine-straight victories, set again in 2013, together with his win on the Dutch Grand Prix.

His pursuit of historical past is the storyline this weekend.

However it isn’t the one one.

Is Monza the place Alex Albon secures his podium for Williams?

It’s time for a daring prediction.

Alex Albon scores a podium end at Monza.

Maybe, given what we’ve seen from Albon and the FW45 in latest weeks, this isn’t precisely a daring prediction. Albon has completed within the factors in three of the final six races, and is coming off a Dutch Grand Prix the place he certified fourth and completed eighth, whereas operating a masterful 45-lap stint on gentle tyres in various situations firstly of the race.

Then there may be Monza itself, which may be a really perfect circuit for the FW45. That automotive has been lightning-fast on straights in latest races — relationship again to the Canadian Grand Prix the place Albon completed a season-best seventh — and at Monza, you will see a variety of straights.

Take into account this telemetry knowledge from F1-Tempo analyzing the Belgian Grand Prix, the place Albon completed outdoors the factors. Whenever you examine his quickest lap to the quickest lap posted by Charles Leclerc — who completed on the rostrum — you see simply how briskly Albon was on the lengthy Kemmel Straight:

Once more, Leclerc completed on the rostrum, however you may see how briskly Albon was on the lengthy straight, reaching a high pace of 328 km/h on that stretch, quicker than Leclerc’s high pace of 316 km/h.

To drive the purpose residence, right here is Albon’s quickest lap from Sunday on the Dutch Grand Prix in comparison with Verstappen’s quickest lap:

Once more, you see the power of Albon and the FW45 on the primary straight at Zandvoort, the place he reached a high pace of 322 km/h, quicker than Verstappen’s 304 km/h. Whereas Verstappen was quicker on varied factors all through the observe, and posted a quicker lap time total, Albon’s power within the straights bodes very properly for Monza.

Can Ferrari, properly, “unbreak” themselves?

I considered a distinct subheadline however, properly, this can be a household web site.

I’ve talked about earlier than the varied texts and social media DMs that pour in throughout qualifying and races from forlorn Ferrari followers. This previous weekend was no exception. With Leclerc crashing out of Q3 on Saturday, and retiring early on Sunday after a cavalcade of errors, it was one other troublesome week for the Scuderia fan in your life.

“Why do I watch this?” was one message acquired following Leclerc’s Q3 crash.

“I ******* hate Ferrari. I ******* hate them.” was a message acquired on Sunday.

This previous weekend was in some ways classic Ferrari. First you’ve Carlos Sainz Jr. bemoaning the dearth of consistency from the SF-23 throughout Thursday’s press conferences. Then Leclerc crashes out of Q3, forcing him to start out the Grand Prix in P9. Then through the early rain within the race itself, Leclerc comes into the pits, and has to attend for the crew to hold the intermediates over from the storage.

That led to an unbelievable second within the F1TV commentary field when the announcers questioned simply what, precisely, the workforce members had been considering Leclerc was boxing for. A recent set of slicks in the midst of a downpour?

Then Leclerc sustains some injury on Lap 12, dropping the best endplate on his entrance wing. That required one other pit cease, a brand new entrance wing, and by then the injury was really achieved.

He would retire after “41 laps of ache” in response to F1TV.

So the query dealing with them this week is, as it’s many different weeks:

Can they “unbreak” themselves, this time in entrance of their residence crowd?

Sport on for second within the Constructors’ Championship?

A mix of latest success from Mercedes, and a few struggles from Aston Martin, had seen the Silver Arrows pull 51 factors away from Aston Martin within the battle for second within the Constructors’ Championship.

However with Fernando Alonso’s second-place end at Zandvoort — coupled with a sixth-place end from Lewis Hamilton and a P17 from George Russell after beginning third — Aston Martin clawed a couple of factors again in that battle.

Past the outcomes, nonetheless, was how properly Alonso regarded within the AMR23 this week. Whereas the workforce began robust — and Alonso scored podiums in 5 of the primary six races of the season — Aston Martin slid again to Earth in latest weeks. That opened the door for Mercedes’ rise to second.

However now, maybe the Silver Arrows have opened that door once more.

What is going to we see from Liam Lawson this week?

Liam Lawson was thrust into an almost-untenable place this weekend.

He came upon after FP2 that he could be taking Daniel Ricciardo’s place within the Grand Prix after the AlphaTauri driver suffered a damaged bone in his left hand throughout that second follow session. That gave Lawson only one follow session earlier than qualifying, and that got here in somewhat moist situations.

As one would possibly count on given simply an hour of follow in difficult situations, Lawson certified P20. He began the Grand Prix in P19 after Kevin Magnussen was compelled to start out on pit lane after taking some new elements, and he scraped collectively a Thirteenth-place end which, all issues thought-about, is an affordable debut.

Now he will get to go to Monza and luxuriate in not solely the good thing about a full slate of follow classes, however he will get to race on a observe the place he has some expertise. Lawson scored factors in a couple of totally different races on the Temple of Pace over his profession.

Lawson scored a P2 at Monza within the Euroformula Open through the 2019, and a pair of factors finishes in F3 at Monza through the 2020 season, one within the Dash Race and the opposite within the Function Race.

In the course of the 2021 F2 season, Lawson completed within the factors in two totally different Dash Races at Monza, in addition to ending within the factors at Monza within the 2022 F2 Dash Race.

Might he safe his first factors in F1 this weekend?

The primary storyline, nonetheless, is Verstappen

Whereas there are different storylines, resembling those we’ve famous, the key storyline is Verstappen, and his pursuit of historical past.

The Purple Bull driver brushed apart questions concerning the file following his win at Zandvoort declaring that he would take into consideration that later within the week. “I’ll give it some thought subsequent week. I’m first going to take pleasure in this weekend,” mentioned Verstappen. “You recognize it’s all the time powerful. The strain is on to carry out and really blissful after all to win right here.”

Nicely, that week is right here, and the strain could mount on Verstappen set the file on Sunday. It additionally comes at a observe the place different groups would love nothing greater than to disclaim Verstappen his style of historical past.

However we’ve seen Verstappen overcome challenges earlier than, and this previous Sunday is simply the newest instance. The RB19 was nonetheless the dominant automotive within the subject, nevertheless it checked out varied occasions this weekend that the hole may be closing to Purple Bull. Verstappen additionally needed to overcome a couple of totally different climate conditions all through the week, and through the Grand Prix itself.

He overcame all these challenges, and there’s no cause to doubt that he’ll overcome the following hurdles he faces, together with maybe the “Monza Curse.” Current winners at Monza have seen misfortune come their method the next season. In 2020 Charles Leclerc, who had received the 12 months earlier than, crashed after an early-race restart and didn’t end.

Then in 2021 Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton crashed in spectacular style, a 12 months after Hamilton received at Monza. That noticed Verstappen’s Purple Bull land on high of Hamilton’s Mercedes, and Hamilton credited the halo system for “saving” his neck. Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty for the next race, however as soon as once more, the earlier 12 months’s winner didn’t end.

The winner in 2021? Daniel Ricciardo, who solely accomplished 45 of the 53 laps within the 2022 race at Monza, together with his McLaren struggling an oil leak that compelled his retirement. Three-straight winners who retired early the next 12 months.

Who received at Monza final 12 months?


Will the Purple Bull driver overcome the Monza Curse as properly? If it does, it would make historical past.


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