F1 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix: Max Verstappen wins after Imola red flag
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, secured his first win of the year as Valtteri Bottas and George Russell crashed out in a high speed collision to bring out the first red flag of the season.
Verstappen got a great reaction when the lights went out and the Dutchman put Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, under immediate pressure into the pit straight kink. On the exit of turn two, Verstappen forced the seven-time world champion to take a bumpy route around turn three before the Red Bull secured the lead by the fourth corner.
Nicholas Latifi, Williams, lost control of his car and went off at the turn 12 chicane, but managed to temporarily return on the track before he made contact with Haas’ Nikita Mazepin and slammed into the wall. This prompted a first lap safety car for the second time this season.
At the exit of the pit lane, Mick Schumacher, Haas, lost his front wing as he attempted to maintain tyre temperature and found himself in the pit wall on the fifth lap.
On lap seven, Verstappen got the race back underway – quickly followed by Hamilton into the first chicane. On the exit of T12, Hamilton began to struggle with the control of his W12 as he wiggled on the exit of Acqua Minerale. By the end of the first lap of racing, Verstappen had cleared a three second gap between himself and Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull, was slammed with a 10-second time penalty shortly after the restart. After he ventured out onto the gravel at turn nine (Piratella) and regained his original position, in front of a McLaren and an Alpha Tauri when the safety car was deployed.
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Aston Martin’s newest arrival, Sebastian Vettel, became the first guinea pig for the rest of the field as he pitted on lap 22 and swapped his intermediate tyres for the medium compound slicks. But he was immediately issued with a 10-second Stop/Go penalty after his tyres weren’t fitted at the five minute signal (before the race start).
By lap 25, both Verstappen and Hamilton were faced with back-markers. While the Dutch Red Bull seemed to pass with ease, Vettel hindered the Mercedes attempt to lap the traffic ahead of him.
Verstappen was the first to jump into the pit lane to undercut the following Mercedes as he changed his intermediates for Mediums, while Hamilton remained out on track and took track position. A lap later, Hamilton entered into the pit lane but as he was stationary for four seconds, the Dutchman was then able to easily undercut the defending world champion.
Double trouble for Mercedes, Hamilton found himself off the track at Tosa (Turn 7) as he attempted to lap Russell, and into the gravel trap on lap 31. As the seven time world champion attempted to return to the track, he made contact with the wall and had to make a trip to the pits to replace his damaged front wing.
While Russell, Williams, found himself in the side of Bottas on the pit straight as the Williams driver attempted an overtake on their way to the Tamburello Chicane. Both cars found themselves into the barriers on both sides of the track. However, the drivers blamed each other for the incident and seemingly exchanged their ‘opinions’ after the incident.
The race was quickly red flagged after the incident between Bottas and Russell.
Verstappen nearly ruined his own restart as he attempted to light up his rear tyres on the exit of Rivazza One (turn 17). Luckily the Dutch driver managed to retain his lead as he recovered his car and accelerated up the pit straight for the rolling start.
On the restart, Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri, spun out at the first corner Tamburello Chicane as his rear tyres lost traction and found himself in the gravel trap. Fortunately, the Japanese driver managed to return to the track to continue his race.
However, Hamilton put in a brilliant recovery drive to restart the race in ninth to second before the Dutchman’s Red Bull crossed the finish line to win.
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
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