Verstappen fends off strong Norris to win at Imola

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Emilia Romagna, Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrariit

Max Verstappen has won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, but it wasn't an easy one as Lando Norris came very close to put up a challenge. Leclerc pleased the numerous tifosi at the circuit by completing the podium for Ferrari.

Starting from pole was Max Verstappen with next to him Lando Norris after his team mate Piastri was penalised and dropped to 5th for impeding Hulkenberg during qualifying. Fernando Alonso meanwhile started from the pitlane after his team had changed the setup of the rear suspension.

Verstappen had no problem taking the lead from pole when the lights went out. Norris seemed to get threatened by Leclerc into Turn 1 but he made it through into second, followed by Leclerc, Sainz, Piastri, Russell, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Tsunoda and Perez. The latter started on the hard tyres while Alonso in the back opted to gamble on the softs. Alonso pitted on lap 9 to switch to the hard compound tyres and saw flames coming off the left front brake. As he sped up, the fire extinguished, but surely the fire doesn't make the situation for Aston Martin this weekend any better.

Tsunoda and Ricciardo both lost two positions in the start while Magnussen gained two. Stroll briefly got ahead of Ocon but was soon again passed by the Alpine.

After Alonso's very early stop, Albon, Gasly and Bottas also changed to hard tyres. Albon soon encountered a problem with his car and completed his out lap very slowly and returned to the pits to get a fresh set of mediums. Clearly those tyres were more suitably fitted, enabling Albon to get on with it from last place and already a lap down. Albon was later given a 10 second stop-and-go penalty for driving the car unsafely.

Meanwhile in front, Verstappen was 3.3s ahead by lap 13. Leclerc and Sainz followed the McLaren without any thread while Piastri put the pressure on Sainz.

No positions changed apart from people stopping. In fact, Sergio Perez went off at Rivazza and did some proper gravel driving, losing him about 10 seconds but still that didn't cost him a position, staying just ahead of Lance Stroll who at the time ran in 9th place.

On lap 22 Russell was the first of the front runners to stop. Norris did the same one lap later to switch from medium to hard tyres. Norris returned just behind Perez and got past the Red Bull after one lap of losing time.

After Verstappen and Leclerc had pitted it was clear the McLarens had great pace early on with the hard tyres. Norris and then Piastri set the fastest laps and cleared some cars. This was at the detriment of Sainz who found himself behind Piastri when he came out from the pits.

As Russell pitted for a second time, changing back to mediums on lap 55, Norris upped the pace and gradually came closer to Verstappen. That same lap, Norris cut the gap with a full second, down to 2.4 seconds. Norris pushed as hard as he could and got to within 0.8s seconds at the start of the final lap but eventually couldn't put up a real fight, allowing Verstappen to take victory.

The World Champion will surely have been happy they ran out of laps while Norris might well bring doubt into Red Bull with a proper challenge for the second time in a row. No more easing to an easy win. Charles Leclerc finished third and completed the podium for Ferrari.


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt631:25:25.25225
24Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes63+0.725s18
316Charles LeclercFerrari63+7.916s15
481Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes63+14.132s12
555Carlos SainzFerrari63+22.325s10
644Lewis HamiltonMercedes63+35.104s8
763George RussellMercedes63+47.154s7
811Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt63+54.776s4
918Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes63+79.556s2
1022Yuki TsunodaRb Honda Rbpt62+1 lap1
1127Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari62+1 lap0
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari62+1 lap0
133Daniel RicciardoRb Honda Rbpt62+1 lap0
1431Esteban OconAlpine Renault62+1 lap0
1524Zhou GuanyuKick Sauber Ferrari62+1 lap0
1610Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault62+1 lap0
172Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes62+1 lap0
1877Valtteri BottasKick Sauber Ferrari62+1 lap0
1914Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes62+1 lap0
NC23Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes51DNF0

Note - Russell scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.