Verstappen forced to tread fine line in Norris chase


Max Verstappen had to push hard towards the end of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, surviving a late attack from Norris to take victory at Imola.

McLaren began to overtake Red Bull with a few laps to go, but was unable to get close enough in the final moments of the race.

He got one second on the final lap, but it was too little, too late. Had the 63-lap race been a little longer, the Briton could have overtaken the Dutchman.

It seemed that he was on his way to achieving a comfortable victory after he maintained the lead in the early stages, after starting from pole position. After a pit stop, the gap between the 26-year-old and Norris behind him increased, but the McLaren driver ultimately had the pace.

“During the whole race, I had to do my best,” Verstappen said after his fifth grand prix win of the season. “On the medium tires we were very strong. On the hard tires [it] It was more difficult to manage, especially in the last ten [or] 15 laps – no more grip.

“I was really slipping a lot. I saw Lando [Norris] I came close, so I was in the last 10 laps, but it's very difficult when the tires don't work anymore… I couldn't afford to make too many mistakes. Fortunately we didn't do that.”

“We didn't have a lot of information about the race.”

It seemed that Verstappen was on his way to achieving a comfortable victory after retaining the lead in the early stages, after starting from pole position. After a pit stop, the gap between the 26-year-old and Norris behind him increased, but the McLaren driver ultimately had the pace.

The easy win was perhaps a bit of a surprise result, given the difficult weekend Red Bull had. Neither the team nor Verstappen looked comfortable on Friday and were only beaten by McLaren drivers Norris and Oscar Piastri for pole position in qualifying, after making extensive settings changes overnight before Saturday.

This left the Milton Keynes team struggling with a lack of data, which Verstappen felt contributed to the difficulty of the Grand Prix.

“We have changed a lot in the car,” Verstappen explained. “Of course, we didn't have a lot of information before the race.

“Maybe that's why it was more difficult for us on the hard tyres, but I think from where we've started the weekend so far we can be incredibly happy with pole position and wins, so I'll accept that.”



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