Verstappen moves forward

Verstappen moves forward

Despite intense pressure from Lando Norris in the final laps, Max Verstappen scored his fifth victory in seven races at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc completes the podium when the Alpine drivers finish outside the points.

The worries born from a difficult Friday have partially disappeared. The day after a hard-won pole position, Max Verstappen did not let slip a fifth victory in seven races at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. And this despite intense pressure in the final laps. When the lights went out, the Dutchman was able to maintain the advantage over Lando Norris and the two Ferrari drivers. It must be said that all the drivers did not excel in the risk-taking department on a narrow Imola track, not very conducive to overtaking and not forgiving the slightest error. With DRS activated at the end of the first lap this season, the three-time world champion immediately increased the pace to put the McLaren driver at bay. A plan which worked very well and allowed the Dutchman to lead the debates without too much worry. Behind the leading duo, Charles Leclerc gradually took over Carlos Sainz Jr, which put the Spaniard under threat from Oscar Piastri.

The first incident of this Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix occurred on the 10th lap when Williams sent Alex Albon back onto the track with a loose right front wheel. If the Thai managed to complete a lap without losing it, this did not escape the stewards who sanctioned him with a ten-second pit stop, further ruining his race. While Max Verstappen took off at the head of the race, his teammate Sergio Pérez once again demonstrated his difficulties. Starting on hard tires with an offbeat strategy, the Mexican distinguished himself by an off-road expedition in the double left of Rivazza in the 17th laplosing ground in the maneuver.

Verstappen very early under threat

The tire change ball started on lap 23 when Lando Norris started the hostilities. Oscar Piastri followed suit on the next lap, imitated by Max Verstappen a loop later. At Ferrari, Charles Leclerc had priority over Carlos Sainz Jr and this worked to the Spaniard’s disadvantage. Indeed, the winner of the Australian Grand Prix lost a place to Oscar Piastri. In front, a sword of Damocles hung over Max Verstappen, warned for having too often abused the limits of the track with a penalty for the slightest additional mistake. At the start of the final third of the race, Lando Norris began to complain of losing pace and the McLaren pit tried to reassure him. However, Charles Leclerc closed in on the Briton, entering his DRS zone on lap 43 as traffic appeared in front of them. Bryan Bozzi, the Monegasque’s new track engineer, then motivated him by telling him that he was the fastest driver at the moment.

But this attack did not pay off, the Ferrari driver even missing his braking at the Gresini chicane on the 47th lap. Losing more than a second in the maneuver, his hopes of second place in front of the fans were gone. At the front, Max Verstappen began to complain about the malfunction of his hard tires while Lando Norris increased his pace to get back under five seconds behind the Dutchman.

Norris confirms McLaren progress

The threat of a penalty was recalled by the Red Bull Racing pit at the start of the final ten laps, increasing the tension for the reigning world champion. Sensing the scent of a potential second victory in a row after that obtained in Miami, the McLaren driver increased the pace to get closer and closer, by several tenths of a second per lap. At the limit in each corner, Lando Norris gave everything to try to get closer to the leader’s DRS zone but he went under second too late. At the end of the suspense, Max Verstappen signs a second victory this Sunday, with those during the virtual 24 Hours of Nürburgring. However, his margin was only 725 thousandths of a second ahead of the McLaren driver, confirming that we will have to count on the Woking team to put Red Bull Racing in difficulty. Eight seconds later, Charles Leclerc placed a Ferrari on the podium in front of the fans when Oscar Piastri and Carlos Sainz Jr completed the podium.

On the Alpine side, the race was not ideal, with both drivers finishing one lap behind the winner. Esteban Ocon lost two positions and finished 14th when Pierre Gasly fell one place in the hierarchy to 16th place. In the championship, Max Verstappen continues to lead the way but changes runner-up. Taking advantage of the poor performance of Sergio Pérez, only eighth, Charles Leclerc took second place, 48 lengths behind the Dutchman but six points ahead of the Mexican. The positions in the constructors’ standings do not change with Red Bull Racing clearly ahead of Ferrari and McLaren. The drivers will not have the opportunity to breathe since they are now expected next weekend in Monaco.

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