GP Emilia-Romagna: Max Verstappen triumphs at Imola and dominates Red Bull

IMOLA, Italy — Dutchman Max Verstappen led a Red Bull dominance over Ferraris at the Emilia-Romagna Formula One Grand Prix held at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari Autodrome in Imola on Sunday, much to the Horror of the Tifosi lake in the stands.

Reigning World Champion Verstappen led the race from start to finish, setting the fastest lap and taking his second win of the season.

He has also teamed up with teammate Sergio Perez to complete Red Bull’s first double since the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2016.

“Have a nice Sunday,” Verstappen called out over the team radio after a gloomy, cloudy and rainy day.

Calming weekend for Red Bull

Verstappen also won the qualifying sprint on Saturday and thus collected the maximum number of points at the weekend.

“It’s always difficult to achieve something like that,” Verstappen said of the perfect weekend.

“We were prepared. With this kind of weather you never know how competitive you will be. But I think as a team we did everything well and this double is deserved. »

Lando Norris on McLaren was third.

Quebec’s Lance Stroll on Aston Martin finished 10th after starting from 15th place and he took his first point of the young season. His teammate Sebastian Vettel finished eighth.

“It’s been a positive weekend for the team and it’s great to see both cars in the points. That was a deserved point for us today because the pressure was high throughout the race, not to mention the changing weather conditions,” said Stroll.

“Everyone was struggling with overheated tires and a drying track but we were able to keep (Lewis) Hamilton behind and put pressure on (Yuki) Tsunoda up front. When we switched to the intermediate tires we kept up the pace and managed to break away from the group behind us,” added Stroll.

Toronto’s Nicholas Latifi also finished the race in 16th place on Williams.

It was a disastrous race for the Ferrari drivers, racing on the famous team’s land and hoping for a return to the higher echelons of the sport.

Charles Leclerc went to the top of the drivers’ standings after winning two of the first three races, while Carlos Sainz Jr. celebrated a two-year contract extension in Italy this weekend.

However, Leclerc failed to surprise Verstappen early in the event and was never in the fight. Sainz went off the track on the first lap, ruining his race.

Verstappen dominated from start to finish

Eventually, Leclerc’s attempt to save the day for Ferrari ended when he, in turn, went off track while battling with Perez for second place. He finally settled for sixth place in the final standings.

Leclerc held a 46-point lead over Verstappen in the drivers’ standings ahead of Sunday’s event, but it’s now just 27 points.

“I was too ambitious. I paid the price and lost seven potential points,” Leclerc admitted in an interview with Sky Sports.

“It’s a shame, it’s seven points that will certainly come in handy at the end of the championship and that mustn’t happen again. »

At the start of Saturday’s qualifying sprint, Leclerc had managed to pass Verstappen, but when race day came, Verstappen got off to a good start. For his part, Leclerc was passed by Perez and Norris.

Leclerc later managed to move up to third and was chasing the Red Bulls when he went off the track.

It had rained heavily in the morning but the precipitation had stopped by the start of the race and although the track was still wet it dried quickly, forcing the drivers to change tires due to the new driving conditions.

The race was also marked by a spectacular and late duel between George Russell, the new Mercedes signing, and Valtteri Bottas, his successor. The two riders fought for fourth place until the last lap and it was Russell who came out on top as the winner.

For his part, Lewis Hamilton had another tough race and had to settle for 13th place.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has apologized to Hamilton over team radio for giving him an “undriveable” car in Italy.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton lost the title to Verstappen in the very last race of the season last year in one of the most thrilling duels in Formula 1 for decades.

On Sunday, Hamilton found himself a lap behind Verstappen when the Dutchman passed him on lap 39.

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