F1: Verstappen Fends Off Late Attack from Norris to Win Emilia-Romagna GP

By Score More

Max Verstappen triumphed at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, held on Sunday (19) at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari International Circuit in Imola. The Red Bull driver secured his 59th Formula 1 victory and fifth win of the year, leading the race from start to finish.

In the closing stages of the race, Lando Norris mounted a significant challenge, closing the gap to the three-time champion. However, Verstappen crossed the finish line just 0.725 seconds ahead of Norris, who finished in second place. Charles Leclerc of Ferrari completed the podium in third.

Oscar Piastri of McLaren finished fourth, followed by Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari SF-24.

The Race

The grid had an empty spot at the back due to Fernando Alonso’s suspension changes, which forced him to start from the pit lane with his Aston Martin AMR24. Given Imola’s tight corners and limited overtaking opportunities, the start was crucial.

The top ten drivers opted for medium compounds, while Sergio Perez, Zhou Guanyu, and Logan Sargeant chose hard tires. Verstappen had a strong start, but Norris matched his pace, briefly running side by side until Verstappen pulled ahead after Turn 2.

Leclerc, having a modest start for the second consecutive race, allowed Sainz to close in but managed to hold third place. Meanwhile, Norris defended his second place.

Lewis Hamilton emphasized the importance of passing Yuki Tsunoda early, succeeding as both Red Bull drivers lost two positions at the start. Nico Hülkenberg advanced with his Haas, moving up two places to eighth, with Perez also climbing into the points.

Verstappen quickly established a nearly two-second lead over Norris even before DRS activation, with Sainz and Piastri pressuring Leclerc.

Aston Martin gambled with Alonso on soft tires, but he only lasted seven laps before switching to hards. Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon also switched to more durable compounds, but Albon’s car had a loose wheel, forcing him to retire after returning to the pits.

Despite challenges in practice, Verstappen extended his lead to five seconds over Norris. George Russell was the first leader to pit on lap 21, with a 2.4-second stop by Mercedes, rejoining behind Esteban Ocon.

McLaren countered Ferrari’s undercut threat by pitting Norris on lap 22. Norris rejoined behind Perez but quickly regained the position using DRS. Ferrari reacted by pitting Leclerc on lap 25, but he rejoined behind Norris and Perez in sixth. Leclerc swiftly passed Perez and Sainz, gaining positions.

Hamilton and Russell finished distant seventh and eighth, with Perez recovering to eighth. Lance Stroll secured points for Aston Martin, overtaking Hülkenberg and Tsunoda to finish ninth.

Despite car issues, Verstappen maintained his lead in the final laps, securing his third consecutive Imola victory. Norris finished second, 0.7 seconds behind, with Leclerc completing the podium for Ferrari.

Emilia-Romagna GP Results:

  1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull/Honda RBPT) – 63 laps
  2. Lando Norris (McLaren/Mercedes) – 63 laps
  3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – 63 laps
  4. Oscar Piastri (McLaren/Mercedes) – 63 laps
  5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – 63 laps
  6. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 63 laps
  7. George Russell (Mercedes) – 63 laps
  8. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull/Honda RBPT) – 63 laps
  9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin/Mercedes) – 63 laps
  10. Yuki Tsunoda (RB/Honda RBPT) – 62 laps
  11. Nico Hülkenberg (Haas/Ferrari) – 62 laps
  12. Kevin Magnussen (Haas/Ferrari) – 62 laps
  13. Daniel Ricciardo (RB/Honda RBPT) – 62 laps
  14. Esteban Ocon (Alpine/Renault) – 62 laps
  15. Zhou Guanyu (Sauber/Ferrari) – 62 laps
  16. Pierre Gasly (Alpine/Renault) – 62 laps
  17. Logan Sargeant (Williams/Mercedes) – 62 laps
  18. Valtteri Bottas (Sauber/Ferrari) – 62 laps
  19. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin/Mercedes) – 62 laps
    DNF. Alexander Albon (Williams/Mercedes) – 51 laps

Verstappen’s performance underscores his dominance in the 2023 F1 season, solidifying his lead in the championship standings. The race at Imola once again showcased the excitement and unpredictability of Formula 1, with strategic decisions and on-track battles captivating fans worldwide.

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