The Italian Grand Prix again provided plenty of twists and turns as the usual suspects battled things out between themselves, and often against their own cars, out in Monza and although there were plenty of near misses for quite a few of the drivers with plenty of close racing again, it was another race that easily went Belgian born, Dutchman Max Verstappen’s way.
Having started the race down in P7, the World Champion quickly made his way in to top spot, and once there he was rarely in danger of losing the win, simply extending the gap he had on his nearest chasers.
Whilst there would have been a sense of disappointment for Team Mercedes again, ultimately given the issues they have had with their cars in the 2022 campaign, George Russell finishing in P3 to take a podium finish should be applauded given the issues he had and only Verstappen himself managed to overtake him – even if he did start the race from P2.
But Lewis Hamilton in many ways stole the show as he managed to fight his way in to a P5 finish, from the lowly depths of P19 having had to deal with a grid penalty.
Engineer Andrew Shovlin did have some issues with Mercedes again seeming to struggle for speed after performing well previously in the Netherlands, but he knew over all that were again positives to be taken and lessons to be learnt.
“It was impossible to do anything on strategy that would have put George better than third. With hindsight fitting the hard on his car at the first stop was a mistake but he did a good job with it and would have kept Carlos at arm’s length had the race finished without the safety car.
“Triple headers are never easy for the team and this one has been particularly tough, but we hope to perform better in the closing races. The battle with Ferrari for second place gives us a good goal to work towards in the final part of the season, so we’ll be using the next two weeks to prepare as it’s going to be a tough finish with six races in eight weeks.”
With Russell securing the podium finish, he felt that the team were continuing to slowly move in the right direction to really start challenging Verstappen and Charles Leclerc and he told Martin Brundle after the race.
“I said on the radio to the team, it doesn’t matter if we’re fast or slow we keep getting these podiums. We weren’t where we want to be as a team but nonetheless, we can look back on these races with two podiums and a P4 so we have to be satisfied with that. We had to do something different to fight with Max and Charles, but they were too quick for us today. I am glad we did something different.”
With Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passing away during the build up to the Italian Grand Prix, Russell also had warm and kind words reflecting on her life and the importance she held for many people around the world. “Incredibly sad time around the world, and for the British people. But what a life and it’s a life that should be celebrated.”
Mercedes will be hoping for further improvement by the time the Singapore Grand Prix rolls around on September 30th, but should the stars align, Verstappen could clinch a second World Title with victory in that race if other things go his way.