Verstappen wins eventful race at Imola

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Italy, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrariit

Max Verstappen took the lead of the race at the wet start, and maintained that until the very end. Behind him however, lots was going on due to the mixed conditions. Lewis Hamilton fought back from an error into second while Norris put McLaren on the podium for the first time this season.

As expected, a properly wet track greeted the F1 field for the start of the race. The track conditions made it even tricky for the drivers to get to their grid slots. Alonso for instance went off and damaged his front wing, requiring a replacement while in position on the grid.

Problems were worse at Aston Martin where Vettel was set to start from the pitlane and Stroll had his brakes on fire on the installation lap, requiring considerable repairs on the right rear brake duct.

Furthermore, Leclerc went off during the warm-up lap and spun, though he managed to rejoin and take his normal 4th position on the grid.

When the lights eventually went out, both Red Bulls threatened to take the lead but it was only Verstappen who managed to get sideways of Hamilton. Having the inside line into Turn 1, he pushed Hamilton to the outside, leaving the latter bumping over the sausage kerbs and take second place, only just managing to keep Perez behind. The event also caused some damage to the front wing of Hamilton's W12.

Perez then lost third place half a lap later by sliding a bit on the rear wheels, leaving Leclerc to make an easy pass.

Racing was stopped soon though as Latifi ran into Mazepin when returning back to the track following a spin. The Williams driver steered right to cross the track with Mazepin already alongside. The Wiliams ended up badly damaged, requiring a safety car to clean up the debris safely.

But even behind the SC, it was a mess, with Perez going off after running on the kerbs. He happily took his position back, and was later given a 10s time penalty for that incident. Mick Schumacher did a proper crash near the pitlane exit, leaving his front wing behind. Funnily, he had to complete another few laps without front wing.

On lap 8, the race was on again, moments after the pit lane opened and Mick Schumacher entered the pits for a lengthy stop.

The restart saw Hamilton threaten Verstappen for first, but as Verstappen smartly defended the inside line in Turn 1, Hamilton backed out before the corner this time.

The following laps mainly saw Gasly retrograde before pitting to change his full wets for a new set of intermediates.

Both McLaren's on the other hand worked like a charm, with Ricciardo and Norris ending up in 5th and 6th. When Norris ended up behind Ricciardo after some strong overtakes, Ricciardo duly let his teammate go after a request from the team, and Norris stating he had a lot more pace in hand.

Two laps later, Norris had already pulled 6s clear of Ricciardo, triggering his team to tell him to be careful on the intermediates, as "we don't want to be the first team on slicks. We want to eke out these inters".

On lap 21, Vettel was the first to switch to slick medium compound tyres, followed immediately by Mick Schumacher who took on a set of used soft.

On lap 28, Verstappen pitted for a switch to medium tyres, very much in the sight of Hamilton who had rapidly been closing the gap from 6s down to 1.5s. Hamilton went on another lap, but sadly for him, his stop lasted 4s, compared to Verstappen's 2.2s, resulting in the same gap and positions as before the stops.

Hamilton was again faster than Verstappen, but while trying to overtake Ocon, he moved on the wet part of the track and slid off, through the gravel and mildly against the tyre barriers. With the front wing damaged, the Mercedes driver still managed to get in reverse to return to the track, and then get back on it.

Next up, Russell and Bottas got involved in a serious crash at the end of the main straight. When Russell attempted to overtake Bottas, the Williams briefly came onto the grass and slammed left into Bottas's right sidepod. Both men ended up in the gravel, with Russell quickly out of his car to go blame Bottas who was still sat in his cockpit, wondering what had happened.

Russell clearly blamed Bottas for not giving him too much space, but in the end, they both end up without points, and with lots of damage to their cars.

The debris left on track required so much repairs that the initial SC was converted to a race stoppage.

The restart, about 20 minutes later, was a rolling start as the FIA deemed it the safer choice. Events behind the initial lap with SC seemed to prove that, with Raikkonen ended up in the gravel and Verstappen nearly spinning on the final corner before relaunching.

As he didn't completely leave the track, Leclerc had to stay behind, messing up his restart and allowing Norris to punch into second place at Turn 1.

Two laps later, Perez spun at Turn 1. The Mexican escaped without damage, but getting out of the gravel trap cost him enough time to only rejoin in 14th, ahead of Tsunoda who had also just found himself in the gravel.

As Norris' soft tyres started to fade away, and the driver reported some vibrations he lost touch with leader Verstappen while Leclerc came ever closer. Hamilton on the other hand enjoyed a string of strong laps and decisive overtakes on Stroll, Ricciardo and Sainz to join the battle for second with 11 laps to go.

Hamilton just went on showing how strong the Mercedes really is - at least compared to the midfield runners - and overtook Leclerc and then Norris to end up in second place, just like he was before his mistake before the red flag. At the same time, Hamilton took the fastest lap.

On the penultimate lap, Mazepin made his mandatory spin, and Vettel retired, ending the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with a Red Bull winner and Hamilton leading the championship by a single point.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
133Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda632:02:34.59825
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG63+22.000s19
34Lando NorrisMcLaren Mercedes63+23.702s15
416Charles LeclercFerrari63+25.579s12
555Carlos SainzFerrari63+27.036s10
63Daniel RicciardoMcLaren Mercedes63+51.220s8
718Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes63+51.909s6
810Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri Honda63+52.818s4
97Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari63+64.773s2
1031Esteban OconAlpine Renault63+65.704s1
1114Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault63+66.561s0
1211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda63+67.151s0
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri Honda63+73.184s0
1499Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari62+1 lap0
155Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes61DNF0
1647Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari61+2 laps0
179Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari61+2 laps0
NC77Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG30DNF0
NC63George RussellWilliams Mercedes30DNF0
NC6Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes0DNF0