Martin Brundle: Max Verstappen unstoppable in title – but Italian GP raises ‘painful’ issues in F1

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen wins the Italian Grand Prix as the race ends behind the Safety Car

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen wins the Italian Grand Prix as the race ends behind the Safety Car

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Monza so intensely packed with fans, but unfortunately, and unusually in recent times, Formula 1 didn’t put on its best show for both qualifying and the race…

Grid penalty farce ‘unacceptable’ for F1

The Ferraris, their drivers and crew looked great with heavy yellow accents all around. And they also looked quick in taking pole position.

With seven cars electing, or largely forced, to take penalties for new power unit components and other offences, for the second time in three races the grid did not remotely represent the qualifying order.

This is an unacceptable situation because when fans go trackside or turn on their TV to watch qualifying, they should reasonably expect to see the race grid being formed. Instead, we waited for several hours for the convoluted and convoluted process of how the penalties were applied.

We need solutions here because this is a bad look for F1. The initial concept is needed to stop teams from throwing new power units and accessories into their cars. Options could include simply giving each driver more power units per season, applying a race penalty such as a track pass, to be carried out at some point in the race, or to give the teams proportionate financial pain and championship points instead of the drivers having to bear the burden through no fault of their own.

Best of the action from qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza

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Best of the action from qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza

Best of the action from qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza

A mixed grid can make for an interesting race watching the drivers go through the field, but even better is when the six cars with a real chance of winning the race are wheel to wheel in the right places on the grid.

With 24 races next season and three or six Sprint races, F1 must adjust the regulatory distribution of power units and sporting regulations. In the multi-billion dollar world of F1, it seems ridiculous that teams seem to have no engines, which of course they don’t.

I remember when I was driving in the 80’s and 90’s we had a new engine almost every day, and the top teams would have 60 engines either under construction, in use, in transit or under refurbishment, which of course is not sustainable. or acceptable or.

Sky F1's Karun Chandhok explains why the Italian Grand Prix ended after the Safety Car and the options available to the FIA ​​in situations like these

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Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok explains why the Italian Grand Prix ended after the Safety Car and the options available to the FIA ​​in situations like these

Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok explains why the Italian Grand Prix ended after the Safety Car and the options available to the FIA ​​in situations like these

The race finale could have been a thriller… but it was painful to watch

And so on race day. At least the mystery grid promised some loads on the field and we certainly got it with Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton.

Max Verstappen quickly moved up to second from seventh and on the grid, Sainz would gain 14 places to finish fourth.

Lewis Hamilton was less spectacular in his progress, but still finished a good fifth from 19th on the grid, although he didn’t look all that impressed as he walked around parc ferme as I waited to interview the top three.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto was unhappy with the FIA's enforcement of safety car regulations in the latter stages of the race.

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Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto was unhappy with the FIA’s enforcement of safety car regulations in the latter stages of the race.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto was unhappy with the FIA’s enforcement of safety car regulations in the latter stages of the race.

And then on lap 47 of 53, Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren, who was having a better run than he has of late at a track where he certainly won last year, broke down on the side of the track.

What followed was a catalog of problems that marred the end of the race, needless to say Leclerc would catch Verstappen. Sainz may have seen Russell for the final podium spot.

It was painful to watch. The McLaren was stuck in gear so couldn’t wheel away as Daniel tried to find a good service opening. It’s an old school track with poor road access and a mobile crane finally arrived to pick it up.

An initiative has been discussed where, in the last five laps of a race, if there is a problem of this kind, then throw out the red flag and restart a standing start. We saw this in Azerbaijan last year and it makes for great anticipation and an exciting finale to a race.

However, I have to say that to me a red flag means a very serious incident or something like a cloud burst and a flooded runway.

Christian Horner admits they would have preferred Max Verstappen to win the race under normal racing regulations rather than behind the safety car

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Christian Horner admits they would have preferred Max Verstappen to win the race under normal racing regulations rather than behind the safety car

Christian Horner admits they would have preferred Max Verstappen to win the race under normal racing regulations rather than behind the safety car

The red flag can be used as a means of neutralizing a race along with yellow flags and one of two safety car options. But when the safety car put George Russell’s Mercedes in third place rather than comfortable race leader Max Verstappen, with a bunch of back markers in between, then it really came down.

I have to say that looking at the file of cars next to a recovery vehicle and a suspended F1 car flipping on the track, albeit at safety car speed, it would have been easy to justify a red flag stop.

Instead, for only the thirteenth time in F1 history a race ended at low speed behind the safety car. It was not the FIA’s best event. Still, it’s such a short race there because of the high average speeds, and the fans would have deserved a thriller at the restart.

Verstappen is confident of the title as De Vries makes his case

Max took his fifth win in a row with ease. I’m not sure Ferrari could have done anything to stop it, but once again it seemed the team relied heavily on their drivers’ views on tire strategies.

An early stop under a virtual safety car set to leave Seb Vettel’s battered Aston Martin didn’t work for Leclerc and he couldn’t respond quickly enough to Verstappen’s relentless speed. He was very down right after the race, despite his second place.

The best of the action from the 2022 Italian Grand Prix from Monza

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The best of the action from the 2022 Italian Grand Prix from Monza

The best of the action from the 2022 Italian Grand Prix from Monza

Nyck de Vries did an outstanding job stepping in on Saturday at Williams for Alex Albon, who needed an appendix removed in a procedure that ended with several complications. I hope he will be fit soon.

De Vries qualified well, started eighth after penalties had been applied, stayed out of trouble and ran with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Pierre Gasly all in contention to seal ninth and two world championship points on his debut. And the fan driver of the day.

That will surely have sealed a spot for him sometime next year. F1 is such a volatile business, it is generally assumed by some that the current entry in F2 and the like are not that strong, and some teams are looking to re-enter more established drivers. “There’s not much choice out there” I often hear in the paddock, but it’s clear if you give some of them a chance. De Vries brought his Williams alive.

It’s only one time Verstappen wins the world title, maybe Japan or Austin I doubt, but mathematically he can do it again next time in Singapore.

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