Max Verstappen has started the Italian Grand Prix weekend on the cusp of yet another record and having drawn considerable praise from two-time champion Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen equalled Sebastian Vettel’s record nine consecutive championship race victories after winning his home grand prix in the Netherlands last weekend. The Dutchman will have the chance to take the record for himself with another win in Monza this Sunday.

While some have considered Verstappen’s domination of the 2023 campaign a turn-off after the considerably more competitive 2021 and 2022 seasons, seven-time 2023 podium-getter Alonso has implored naysayers to understand the effort required to perform at Verstappen’s level for an extended time.

“It is underestimated sometimes what Max is achieving,” said Alonso. “I think to win in such a dominant matter in any of the professional sports is so complicated.

“To be at the same level as him — obviously we have a lot of self-confidence, drivers in general, so I do believe that I can do good as well — I think you need to enter in a mood, in a state that you are connected with a car.

“I think [in the Netherlands] I felt that I was at my best and have been giving 100 per cent of what I felt and my abilities on a racing car, but maybe in Spa I was not at that level or in Austria or something like that.

“You always feel that there is room to improve and you are not 100 per cent happy with yourself.

“I think Max is achieving that 100 per cent more often than us at the moment, than any of the drivers, so that's why he's dominating.”

Verstappen said he believed other drivers had had better cars in the past without having achieved his run of results.

“I think there have been more dominant cars in the past than what we have at the moment and they haven’t been able to win nine in a row [or] the consecutive wins we have as a team,” he said. “It is hard and … it’s easy to make a wrong call or even drop it yourself in the gravel or whatever.

“It’s never that straightforward unfortunately.”

The Italian Grand Prix could be one of Red Bull Racing’s biggest challenges of the season, with its low-downforce demands neutering many of the RB19’s biggest strengths.

Similar circuits in Azerbaijan and Canada produced closer results than the season average, including a Ferrari pole position courtesy of Charles Leclerc in Baku.

“It’s very different to Zandvoort,” Verstappen said of the high-speed Monza track. “It’ll be interesting to see how we perform there.

“It will be very important this weekend to generate as much top speed as possible while looking after the tyres.

“Coming off nine wins in a row, I hope I can continue the streak, but we’ll find out.”


Max Verstappen, obviously. But I’m going to throw Ferrari fans some hope — false or not — that the team’s home track might be kind to the unloved SF-23 and send the team off from the European season on a relatively happy note.

Pole position: Max Verstappen

Podium: Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc

Winning margin: 10 seconds

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. Quotes have been obtained from team press conferences and issued press releases.