F1 commentator Peter Windsor believes Max Verstappen exposed Sergio Perez’s substandard racecraft in overcoming the Ferrari threat to win the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Verstappen claimed a record 10th successive victory on Sunday in Italy, with Perez recovering from fifth on the grid to secure Red Bull’s sixth one-two finish of the F1 2023 season.
Despite the team’s current dominance, Red Bull did not have it all their own way at Monza after Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz led the early phase of the race from pole position.
Max Verstappen racecraft puts Sergio Perez to shame at Monza
Verstappen eventually passed Sainz for the lead at the second chicane on Lap 15, having forced a mistake from his rival under braking at the end of the pit straight, while Perez later spent some time trying to pass Sainz and Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc before finally claiming second place.
Speaking via his YouTube channel, 1992 title-winning Williams team manager Windsor has praised Verstappen for quickly realising that the move – in the face of a stern Sainz defence – would have to be completed at the second chicane, with Perez’s racecraft lacking in comparison as he tried to force an overtake into the first chicane.
He said: “I was hoping that, just for the sake of having a little bit of change, with that top-speed advantage – and with the speed that Ferrari had shown with a heavy fuel load on Friday and Saturday – Carlos was going to have enough room to play with to manage the tyres.
“The problem was that Max was just too near. He was never in a position really to look after the tyres, because Max Verstappen was always in his mirrors and that’s what won Max the race.
“He quite quickly – very early on in the race – pushed Carlos into a position where he couldn’t really do any tyre management and all he could do was look in his mirrors and try to defend from about six laps onwards, albeit with that top-speed advantage.
“Red Bull did get on the radio to Max at some point and said: ‘Look, rear tyres are going off Max, let’s make a move.’
“And Max replied: ‘Yeah, but this thing is really quick in a straight line.’
“I thought the impressive thing was how Max then thought that through. This is where the engineers are on the pit wall, they’re doing their thing and it’s up to the driver: ‘Don’t take any risks, Max, etc, etc…’
“Max realised very early on, I think, that it was going to be really difficult – even though he was getting held up – to pass Carlos Sainz even with the help of DRS on the pit straight – because all he could really do was pull out just before the braking area, at which point Carlos was always going to go down the inside and it was always going to be a dodgy pass.
“To get the real pass, he needed to be able to pull out earlier – and he didn’t have enough top speed to do that, that was the interesting thing. That’s why, I think, Carlos led for the first 14 laps of the Italian Grand Prix.
“It wasn’t three laps or six laps – it was 14 laps, which was quite impressive even though they went very quicky, as races always do at Monza.
“So what Max did – and this is the sign of Max’s maturity, the way he thinks through a race, this is not what Sergio Perez did, you’ve got to say – is realise that the real pass at Monza is going to be made at the second chicane, if he can be on the outside on the run out of the [first] chicane and then through the Curva Grande towards the second chicane.
“If he was on the inside there, and more or less alongside Carlos, then he was going to be on the grip under braking and then he was going to get the lead into that second chicane.
“It wasn’t a DRS area, it was just a place where it was logical to try and pass.
“So, his main hope obviously was that Carlos would make some sort of error, would lockup and run a little bit wide at Turn 1, maybe even go down the escape road.
“So what Max did over the next two or three laps was brake really late – as late as he dared – [and] he just sat there right behind Carlos, sometimes to the left, sometimes alongside him going into the first chicane to the point where eventually Carlos, yes, did lockup.
“It was about the one and only time he did lockup in the race, but he locked up – and, to his credit, Carlos didn’t then run wide, didn’t have a moment. He just locked up, came out of the brake pedal, got it really nice, got back onto the line very, very well – but he was a little bit late on the power in doing so out of [Turn] 2.
“And, as Max had planned coming out of 2, he was then able to just pull to the left on acceleration because he had a better acceleration run and that put him on the outside through Curva Grande and thus on the inside into the second chicane.
“It was eventually a one-two for Red Bull because Sergio Perez, after a pretty disappointing qualifying session, utilised all the good things about that car eventually to finish second.
“But he made very heavy weather of getting past Carlos Sainz, unlike Max, because he never really twigged that the way to pass was into the second chicane.
“He was always trying that business of: ‘Well, I’ve got the DRS here, I’ve got the run on him, I hope I can get down the inside into 1 and I’ve got the pass.’
“But he was never pulling out early enough to do that. He was never close enough to pull out early enough to do that, until eventually Carlos got a little bit of an issue coming out of the Parabolica, lost a bit of time.
“Perez on that lap got a lot closer and eventually he got him into 1, relatively easy pass in the end.
“So a good P2 for Sergio Perez, exactly what Red Bull would want from their other driver.”
Verstappen latest victory means he now holds a 145-point lead over Perez with eight rounds remaining and is almost certain to be crowned a three-time World Champion in the coming weeks.