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Verstappen cruises to historic win for Red Bull


While the drivers remain divided over the qualifying format being trialled yesterday - and again at Monza - it has provided us with a slightly mixed up grid, though the lack of running in FP1 helped.

Watching Sainz and Russell attempt to carve their way through the field on a track notorious for its lack of overtaking possibilities is going to be just one of the anticipated highlights this afternoon.

From the outset Liberty has been determined to "level the playing field" and "spice" things up and is clearly leaving no stone unturned, and though Ross Brawn's reverse grid proposal was widely (and rightly) condemned this appears to be the latest attempt.

Furthermore, as Carlos Sainz questions why the teams even bothered running on Friday, what with the need to save the limited tyres available, what better way to introduce the two-day weekend.

Of course, the big question today is whether pole-man Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen can get through the first corner, indeed the remainder of the opening lap, unscathed, or whether old (2021) hostilities might be resumed from the outset.

Neither has the comfort of a back-up, and with the McLaren duo breathing down their necks both the Briton and his Dutch rival will be best served by playing the long game.

Right in the mix also are the Alfa Romeo pair, who have been looking good all weekend, add in Fernando, Sergio and Nico and you have some of the spice Stefano Domenicali and his pals are always looking for.

Hamilton has been playing down his chances, insisting that the Red Bull has an 0.5s advantage on long run pace, and while the Briton and his team always like to play the underdog it must be said that the Red Bull is pretty special, even if Max doesn't always agree.

The weather Gods are unlikely to play a part in terms of rain, but the warmer conditions could definitely have some bearing.

Underpinning all this however is the tyres, with no two teams appearing to perform similarly while on the same compounds - qualifying being a good example. Indeed, Friday's restricted running combined with the revised format has sen all manner of strategies played out, sometimes between a team's two drivers, all of which adds to the uncertainty.

The most likely strategy is for two stops, starting on the C4 and running two further stints on the C3. A single stop (hard to medium) is possible but it's very much on the limit, both in terms of performance drop-off and tread life.

The pitlane opens and shortly after Norris admits to running over a kerb and calls on his team to check the floor.

Ahead of the formation lap the air temperature is 28 degrees C, while the track temperature is 49 degrees.

"Honestly, it doesn't matter," says Max of the start. "It's a long race, a lot of things can happen. It's not a one-stop, so even with strategy a lot of things can play out."

All are starting on mediums bar Sainz, Stroll, Gasly and Tsunoda who are on softs, while Perez and Russell are on hards. Norris, Sainz, Stroll, Gasly, Albon, Tsunoda, Russell, Magnussen and Sargeant are all on fresh rubber.

Tsunoda believes Plan A to be the best idea once appraised of the starting tyres.

They head off on the formation lap.

The grid forms.

They're away!

Hamilton gets away well as does Norris and Bottas. As they approach Turn 1, Verstappen is on the inside with Hamilton to his left and Norris further out on the outside. Just behind Verstappen and Hamilton is Piastri with Leclerc to his left.

With the inside line Verstappen has the advantage, but Hamilton doesn't back off, and as the Dutchman forces the Mercedes driver wide Piastri comes though on the inside.

Verstappen leads Piastri and as the round Turn 2 Norris is on the outside of Hamilton there by giving the inside line for Turn 3. In no time at all the seven-time champ has lipped from pole to fourth.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the field, Zhou was involved in a clash with Ricciardo going into Turn 1, causing the Australian to hit Ocon who subsequently hit his Alpine teammate. Another disaster for the French team.

At the end of Lap 1, it's: Verstappen, Piastri, Norris, Hamilton, Leclerc, Sainz, Alonso, Perez, Hulkenberg and Stroll. Russell is up to 14th while Ocon and Gasly are 19th and 20th. Indeed, Gasly pits, the Frenchman having lost the tyre from his right-rear and thereby damaged his suspension.

As Verstappen builds a 1.1s lead, Sainz is all over his Ferrari teammate.

At the end of Lap 2, Ocon pits, his race also appearing to be at an end.

"Sorry about that guys," says Hamilton of his start.

Alonso is under pressure from Perez as Leclerc falls 2s behind Hamilton.

With the aid of DRS, Perez makes a move on Alonso, but the wily old Spaniard is having none of it.

"Any advice to get these temps down," asks Russell, while Hamilton is told: "Front right brake that is running hot, see what you can do."

The first lap incident is under investigation.

At the start of Lap 8, Perez finally nails Alonso into Turn 1. The Spaniard tries to fight back but realises that it is a fruitless task. "I need to let this guy go," says the two-time champ, why waste thirty seconds battling?"

"It looks like Alonso at the head of this queue is playing the long game, he's managing his tyres," Magnussen is told.

Zhou is given a 5s time penalty for causing a collision.

Albon pits at the end of Lap 8, the Williams driver switching to hards.

Stroll, Tsunoda and Bottas all pit at the end of Lap 9. It's a particularly long stop for the Japanese.

Told to switch positions, Sainz claims that it is too early. Not entirely what was meant by positions.

Zhou pits at the end of Lap 10 and serves his penalty. He rejoins in 18th (last).

Magnussen reports that Russell is using DRS without there being another car in front of him.

Lap 11 sees a new fastest lap from Bottas who is on hards.

Verstappen has a 4.7s lead over Piastri with the next 10 cars each separated by around 2s.

Zhou posts a new fastest lap (23.743), as Hamilton and Hulkenberg have their times deleted.

"Maximum pace to target lap, maximum pace to target lap," Piastri is told.

Sargeant pits from 13th at the end of Lap 13, the American rejoining in 18th.

Next time around Magnussen pits.

"If I see Checo trying is going to pass me I'll box," says Sainz, "but not yet."

At which pint the Spaniard pits without Perez having made a move. He rejoins in 11th, 5.9s down on Ricciardo.

Hamilton pits at the end of Lap 16, as does Hulkenberg. The rejoin in 8th, ahead of Ricciardo, and 15th respectively.

Norris responds to the Hamilton undercut, as does Leclerc. While the McLaren driver rejoins in 5th, a poor stop sees the Monegasque drop to 11th where he is immediately involved in a battle with Bottas.


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1. Posted by Chester, 24/07/2023 14:27

"I'll give Kenji the benefit of the doubt on this one. McLaren has historically done a poor job of driver management. I still wonder how it all went so wrong with Ricciardo. "

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2. Posted by JamesD, 24/07/2023 10:56

"@kenji - And how did Max get his first win in Barcelona 2016 ? By Red Bull pitting Max ahead of Daniel, despite Daniel being ahead of Max at the time ..."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by kenji, 24/07/2023 1:15

"Once again Norris get 'favourite son' treatment and then tries to bask in the glory that rightfully belonged to his team mate. The leading McLaren driver ATT [ 18 laps in ] was abandoned and thrown under the bus as Norris was given the undercut on Piastri. Weasel words from Brown and Stella do nothing to justify the unfair treatment meted out. What a sham McLaren are proving to be when it comes to driver treatment. Oscar needs to toughen up now as the writing is on the wall and he won't be allowed to beat Norris. Hopefully Mark Webber will step in and 'stir the possum' before it's too late."

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Celtic Tiger, 24/07/2023 0:10

"Lando breaking Max's trophy was pretty funny. "

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5. Posted by Kallie61 , 23/07/2023 20:01

"Well what else can you expect from Verstapen when his team have been proven to have been cheating by overspending, but then only receiving a nominal penalty for a rich team like red bull…."

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6. Posted by Chester, 23/07/2023 17:12

"Sorry, I did not watch the Podium ceremony. I guess I have one more reason to like Lando. He and I make the same dumb mistakes. I hope age helps him"

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7. Posted by Chester, 23/07/2023 16:38

"Congratulations, Lando! "

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