Max Verstappen was in a “devastating rhythm” according to Italian media after the World Champion secured victory in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Starting seventh, Verstappen was on course for a dominant win – his 11th from 16 races – before a late Safety Car bunched the field up meaning his winning margin to home favourite Charles Leclerc was greatly reduced.
However, despite vanquishing the Tifosi’s hope of a win via Leclerc, the Italian media remarked that nothing was going to stop the Red Bull driver – who has now won the previous five Grands Prix.
‘Verstappen breaks the spell on Monza while Charles Leclerc surrenders’ was the headline in Gazzetta dello Sport.
Leclerc pitted early under a Virtual Safety Car, but was forced into a second stop with 20 laps to go for a set of fresh Softs.
This was because Verstappen had 13 lap fresher Pirelli rubber under him, and was carving into the Monegasque’s lead.
It meant Leclerc had 20 laps to make up 20 seconds, something he never got close to doing.
While noting Leclerc’s comeback drive, Gazzetta was effusive about Verstappen’s drive.
“It would be incorrect to say that Verstappen did not deserve the victory – his rhythm was devastating,” it wrote.
“He was the best and you can’t argue with that.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Republica, which said that: “of course he would have won the race just as well if they had driven after the Safety Car – but the main thing is that the fans deserved a [good finish.]”
While praising the drivers, the decision to end the race behind the Safety Car was not popular.
Race ending criticised
“You could still discuss whether they could have finished on track, but it is certain that the Safety Car should have picked up [leader] Verstappen and not George Russell – that made it a big mess.”
Corriere dello Sport suggested that race control was the “loser” of the day in denying the fans a green flag finish and a “nice end to the race.”