It was Verstappen’s fifth consecutive win and his first in the Italian Grand Prix, a huge disappointment for the Ferrari fans who packed Monza and were hoping for Leclerc to win.
The Dutchman now leads the drivers’ standings by 116 points and, mathematically, could clinch the title at the next race in Singapore.
Boos rang out around Monza as Sunday’s race ended behind the safety car after Daniel Ricciardo stopped the track with five laps to go.
This meant that Leclerc, who overtook Verstappen, who made an extra pit stop, was unable to challenge his rivals in the closing stages.
However, it became clear throughout the race that Verstappen had excellent speed as he moved up from 7th on the grid.
“I had the gap under control at the end when the safety car came out,” Verstappen said in a post-race interview. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to restart, but overall we had a really good day again.
The Red Bull driver had to be penalized five places on the grid after using new power unit components, but was quick to disrespect the drivers between him and pole-sitter Leclerc.
He moved into second place ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell by lap five and took the lead on lap 12 when Leclerc pitted when the virtual safety car was deployed.
Verstappen changed the tires himself on lap 26, handing the lead back to Leclerc. Leclerc made his second pit stop seven laps later. This gave Verstappen a lead of around 20 seconds and ultimately confirmed his victory as the race ended behind the safety car.
“The start was very good, the chicane was clean,” added Verstappen. “After that, I quickly found my rhythm and was able to finish second.
“The tires were really good. It was really hot today, but it was really fun to drive. It was a great day for us.”
Russell’s solid race put him on the podium behind Leclerc, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Mercedes-Lewis Hamilton, who started at the back of the grid with power unit penalties, rushed through the field to finish fourth. and finished in 5th place.
Williams’ Nick de Vries, who replaced Alexander Albon, who is undergoing treatment for appendicitis, finished ninth on his F1 debut and was named Driver of the Day.