In the high-octane world of Formula 1 racing, champions do not just clash on the track. This weekend, reigning world champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing responded to comments made by his British rival, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, pertaining to the quality of Verstappen’s teammates, particularly highlighting the Mexican driver, Sergio ‘Checo’ Pérez.
Hamilton remarked, “Jenson (Button), Fernando (Alonso), George (Russell), Valtteri… Nico (Rosberg). I’ve had so many. They’ve all been very consistent, and Max hasn’t raced against anyone like them,” alluding to Pérez.
Verstappen Strikes Back
Brushing aside the implications of Hamilton’s comments, Verstappen fired back, “Perhaps he’s jealous of my current success, but it doesn’t bother me at all. He might think he’s gaining something with these statements or feels the need to defend something. But it really doesn’t matter to me. Losing is tough for them. That’s the issue when you’ve been winning for so many years.”
He further added, “You have to be able to be realistic. If you aren’t, you aren’t. You should appreciate what other teams do. That’s what we did during the years when Mercedes dominated.”
Monza Grand Prix Roundup
At the Italian Grand Prix, the 14th race of the season, Verstappen continued his exceptional form by securing his tenth consecutive victory—a record. The Dutch champion finished ahead of his teammate Pérez, who claimed the second spot, and Ferrari’s Spanish driver, Carlos Sainz, who began from the pole position at the Monza circuit but ultimately secured the third spot.
After the race, Verstappen reflected on his achievement, “I never thought it could happen (breaking the record), but we worked hard today. I just tried to remain patient. It was a long race, and I noticed the rear tires were wearing out, so I had to pick my moment.”
Sainz, buoyed by the passionate support of Ferrari’s fans, managed to hold off Verstappen’s Red Bull for 14 out of the 51 laps before being overtaken. He was later surpassed by Pérez on the 46th lap and wrapped up the race with an intense battle against his teammate Charles Leclerc.
The Scuderia faithful chanted “Carlos, Carlos” as a show of appreciation for Sainz’s first podium of the year. Speaking about his performance, Sainz said, “I couldn’t push harder than today. Honestly, I drove aggressively throughout to keep the Red Bulls at bay, which took a toll on my tires. In the end, I paid the price.” He added, “I’m delighted with a P3 finish in front of the ‘Tifosi.’ Red Bull was faster than us this weekend, as we had anticipated. It was a day of testing my limits, and I did everything I could to hold them off.”
Leclerc, the last Ferrari driver to win at Monza in 2019, finished in the fourth position, followed by Mercedes drivers George Russell (5th) and Lewis Hamilton (6th).
In another turn of events, a Japanese driver, starting 11th on the grid, faced engine troubles and had to retire even before the race began.