Max Verstappen booed across line in controversial finish at Italian Grand Prix | F1 | Sport

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Red Bull star Max Verstappen was booed across the finish line at the Italian Grand Prix as the Ferrari-dominated crowd vented their frustration at a decision to finish the race behind a safety car. Charles Leclerc consequently had to settle for second place after being denied the chance to launch a late challenge for top spot. 

Leclerc started Sunday’s Grand Prix on pole after a superb qualifying performance saw him pip Verstappen. The Dutchman ended up starting way back in seventh as he, along with several other competitors, accepted grid penalties. 

Verstappen quickly weaved his way through the pack and ended up in second place, behind Leclerc, in the early stages of the race. Superior pace eventually told and the Red Bull star had surpassed Leclerc and built up a commanding lead by the time Ferrari committed to one last throw of the dice by fitting the 24-year-old with soft-compound tyres for the final 20 laps. 

The Monegasque didn’t have the pace to close a 20-second gap, although it looked like he had been thrown a lifeline when Daniel Ricciardo’s malfunction brought out a late safety car. A cherry picker was required to move the Aussie’s McLaren and, much to the home fans’ frustration, it meant that the race was finished under safety car conditions. 

DON’T MISS: Max Verstappen reacts to controversial Italian GP win as he’s booed by Ferrari fans

Boos rang out around Monza as the pack approached the finish line, with Verstappen clinching yet another victory and extending his Championship lead over Leclerc in the process. The Dutchman has dominated this year’s title race and has a three-digit buffer with just six race weekends remaining. 

As well as thousands of spectators at Monza, Leclerc and Lando Norris were among those to vent their anger towards an anti-climactic end to one of the highlights of the F1 calendar. When informed that the race would be finished behind the safety car, Leclerc protested: “Come on, it’s clear, come on,” while Norris shouted: “F***” over the team radio. 

Some drew comparisons to the controversial fashion in which last season’s title decider between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton finished in Abu Dhabi. On that occasion, the FIA were keen to give fans one final lap of blockbuster action to decide the Championship, but the Tifosi at Monza weren’t afforded the same excitement on Sunday. 

“We had a great race,” said Verstappen after taking the chequered flag. “On every compound we were good.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get a restart at the end but overall we had a really good day. It was really enjoyable to drive today. A great day for us. It took a bit of time to be on a great podium like this.”

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