The Emilia Romagnia Grand Prix was not one to be missed throwing in everything from high impact crashes, close contact racing and the continuation of a thrilling Verstappen-Hamilton battle.
Max Verstappen started in 3rd position – but by the end of turn 1 on lap 1, Verstappen had taken care of teammate Sergio Perez and polesitter Lewis Hamilton. He had an immense start launching off the line in 2nd gear on a wet Imola Racetrack on intermediate tyres. He was side by side with Lewis Hamilton into turn 2 squeezing the Briton onto the bumps to take the lead. From here on, Verstappen commanded the race despite a long list of on-track incidents.
Driver of the day was Lando Norris who finished in 3rd position after his P3 pole lap was deleted in Saturday quali. Norris lost 2nd place with 3 laps to go when a charging Lewis Hamilton swept passed him into turn 2. The end result saw Hamilton finish in P2 but it wasn’t plain sailing and Hamilton had to work harder than ever to make up the deficit after a rare mistake saw him spin off the track whilst trying to navigate through some back markers. It dropped him a lap down but within the same lap the red flag came out after a massive, high speed crash between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell down the home straight. At almost 300kph the Williams spun out taking Bottas with him and they both were shunted into the crash barriers.
Thankfully, both drivers were checked over by the medical team and they have been okayed. The accident meant a reset of the cars once again, and this was to Hamilton’s advantage who restarted after the red flag in 9th position with a long uphill battle to chase down Max Verstappen. 8th placed Yuki Tsunoda spun off straight after the restart at Tamburello allowing Hamilton an easy pass before the 7-time world champion fought his way passed Stroll, Ricciardo, Sainz, Leclerc and eventually Lando Norris to claim back 2nd position.
With a race that started out wet and gradually dried throughout the race, the key decision was choosing when to fit dry tyres and then ensuring you stayed on the dry part of the track. A number of drivers were caught out constantly spinning off track by hard throttle application offline. Everyone from Schumacher, Perez, Tsunoda and even Max Verstappen on the restart after the red flag saw themselves in the gravel or very close.
Kimi Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon rounded out the Top 10 bringing valueable points home for Alfa Romeo and Alpine Renault.
Key Talking Points after the Emilia Romanga GP:
- Vettel continues to be outshined by his teammate Lance Stroll. Stroll finished in a strong 7th position where Vettel finished in 15th.
- McLaren and Ferrari are dueling this season and both teams have shown tremendous improvement and pace with similar driver line-ups in terms of experience and race results. The younger Norris and Leclerc outshone their teammates today and McLaren stole one extra point through today’s results.
- Lewis Hamilton still leads the championship by just one point after a fastest lap point was awarded as well. His points tally - you guessed it, 44 points.
- But Max is calm and collected and playing the long game. A post-race interview jibe by Martin Brundle may have flustered a younger Max, but his response was ‘Keep calm. It’s a long season.’ He is in fantastic form at the moment.
- Both Williams marked with DNFs today after Latifi and Russell crashed out in similar circumstances. A track of fast-changing conditions shows up mistakes even among the best but it was a sad day for the team as once again, Russell was in a points-scoring position and Latifi was not too far behind.
2021 Emilia Romagna Formula 1 Grand Prix Results:
- Max Verstappen
- Lewis Hamilton
- Lando Norris
- Charles Leclerc
- Carlos Sainz
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Lance Stroll
- Pierre Gasly
- Kimi Räikkönen
- Esteban Ocon
- Fernando Alonso
- Sergio Perez
- Yuki Tsunoda
- Antonio Giovinazzi
- Sebastian Vettel
- Mick Schumacher
- Nikita Mazepin
- Nicholas Latifi – DNF
- George Russell - DNF
- Valtteri Bottas – DNF
Next stop – Portugal on 2 May 2021.