Max Verstappen won a dramatic Emilia Romagna Grand-Prix to kickstart his championship challenge. The Red Bull Racing driver managed the wet conditions masterfully to seal his first win of the season. The Dutch ace finished ahead of title rival Lewis Hamilton in challenging conditions as the weather caused chaos for everyone.
Verstappen Walks the Tightrope for an Immaculate Victory
Moments before the race began, a heavy rain shower soaked the racetrack. The caveat was only some sections of the track were wet; others were completely dry. Those mixed conditions are the trickiest for racing drivers. On a track lined with gravel traps, it is even more challenging. Former world champion Fernando Alonso went off on the way to the grid, highlighting the treacherous conditions.
Through all the problems and cars spinning off all over the place, Verstappen masterfully launched his car off the start and then barged his way past Lewis Hamilton at the first corner. After getting past his rival, Verstappen drove in a class of his own. Nobody came close to the Dutch master as he raced in a balletic style on the asphalt tightrope. Verstappen’s faultless performance underlined that his championship credentials are for real.\
The Chaos of Lap 32
After getting passed on the first lap, Lewis Hamilton started to chase Verstappen down. As the two drivers came closer to their pitstop, Hamilton began to hunt Verstappen. Verstappen pitted to swap for dry tires, while Hamilton stayed out for an extra lap. Hamilton was flying; a slow pit-stop probably cost him the race lead. No matter, Hamilton’s speed was good after the stop. While Verstappen sliced his way past the lapped cars, Hamilton closed in. Then came lap 32; Hamilton needed to pass the lapped cars as well. On one fateful corner, Hamilton hit a damp patch while he overtook a backmarker. That sent Hamilton into the gravel trap; the seven-time world champion made a crucial mistake.
While Hamilton reversed out of the gravel, his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes protege George Russell suffered a massive crash. The race got red-flagged while the drivers argued over whose fault it was. The race would get restarted after the track staff cleaned the mess.
McLaren v Ferrari and Hamilton’s Charge
Behind Max Verstappen, McLaren and Ferrari did battle for the rest of the top six places. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and McLaren’s Lando Norris waged a struggle for the entirety of the restarted race. Norris overtook Leclerc at the restart and never looked back. The excitable Twitch hobbyist drove like a veteran as he sealed a podium place for his team. Norris outpaced his experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo as McLaren beat Ferrari for third place. The Ferraris enjoyed a solid day as they finished fourth and fifth at their home race.
Both of these teams lost out to a charging Hamilton. After his trip through the gravel, Hamilton resumed in ninth place. From there, the defending world champion stormed his way through the pack to limit the damage done by his mistake. The Brit finished second and is only one point ahead of Max Verstappen in the championship standings.
Best of The Rest
Mexico’s Sergio Perez endured a difficult afternoon after he spun off and took a penalty for passing behind the pace car. Fernando Alonso snatched a point’s finish despite a severe lack of speed all weekend. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll also brought his car home for another point finish, and the French duo of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon also hauled themselves into the top ten after tricky starts to the race.
The global circus of F1 moves to Portugal in two weeks. The Portimao circuit in the Algarve will host round three of this absorbing world championship. It is the next place to bear witness to the battle between two once in a lifetime athletes. It can’t come soon enough.
Top Ten Classification
|1 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA|
|2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES|
|3 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES|
|4 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI|
|5 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI|
|6 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES|
|7 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA|
|8 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES|
|9 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT|
|10 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT|
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