Verstappen fends off Norris threat for resounding Imola win


Max Verstappen achieved his 59th race win of his career, winning the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

The Dutchman controlled the race from start to finish in a decisive response to the threat McLaren posed throughout the weekend.

The end of the Grand Prix saw Norris approaching the back of Verstappen in a battle for the lead, but the three-time world champion held on for victory.

After winning his first race in Miami two weeks ago, Norris had to settle for second place this time around.

The podium was completed by Charles Leclerc, who beat McLaren's second Oscar Piastri for the final place in the top three.

Opening mission

At the start of the race, Norris appeared to have gotten the duo the stronger start before Verstappen maintained his lead on the second stage to remain in the lead through the first corner.

Verstappen closed the gap on Norris to more than two seconds in the first ten laps while Piastri attacked Ferrari in his bid for a podium finish.

On lap 10, Alex Albon's race was reversed after a botched pit stop resulted in a loose tire fitting, forcing him to slow his pace as he returned to the pit lane – the incident resulting in a 10-second penalty for Albon.

A few laps later, Piastri increased the pressure on Carlos Sainz in their battle for fourth place, but the Spaniard managed to hold on into the first corner.

Further down the grid, right-back RB held off Yuki Tsunoda, who stopped one lap ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in a battle at the lower end of the points.

Perez, who started the race on the hard tire from 11th on the grid, lost several seconds after taking a trip through the gravel at the penultimate turn after his left front tire locked.

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Pit stop stage

Russell became the first of the top six drivers to pit for hard tires on lap 22, and his rivals followed shortly after.

Norris pitted one lap later but dropped decisively behind Perez. He followed the Mexican driver for one lap before passing him at the first corner.

Piastri and Verstappen stopped on laps 24 and 25, while Hamilton's Ferrari and Mercedes chose to continue longer.

Leclerc started on lap 26 before Hamilton, on old tires, made a mistake and went through the gravel at Turn 12.

Hamilton pitted on the following lap, as did Sainz, who found himself several seconds behind Piastri and relinquished fourth place.

© XP Images

© XP Images

Run to the end

Pérez was the last driver to make his mandatory pit stop as he switched to the medium tire on lap 38 before reclaiming eighth place.

Up front, Verstappen was under pressure in the final ten laps as Norris increased his pace and closed in on the three-time champion.

After taking several seconds from the Red Bull driver, Norris pushed Verstappen all the way to the checkered flag, but his attempt was ultimately unsuccessful.

Piastri, who was the second fastest driver during qualifying before being subjected to a three-place drop penalty, retained fourth place while Sainz had to settle for fifth place.

A relatively quiet day for George Russell saw him enter the pits for new tires with 10 laps to go for new Medium cars, setting the fastest lap before the checkered flag in seventh place, behind teammate Hamilton.

Despite having softer, newer tires compared to those in front of him, Perez was unable to attack the Mercedes in front of him, leaving the weekend with four points.

Lance Stroll finished ninth while Tsunoda took the final point on offer in tenth.



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