Imola is a demanding racetrack that has always brought with it drama. After the excitement of Bahrain, few people thought that Imola would deliver a more nail-biting race. From start to finish, Imola brought surprises (and spins) at almost every corner, thanks to the rainy conditions. We’re giving you a full debrief of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and how it’s brought Verstappen and Hamilton one point apart for the championship.
Verstappen vs Hamilton
After narrowly missing out on clinging victory in Bahrain, Verstappen had his eyes on the prize from the get-go. It was clear that Hamilton was going to be chased by the two Red Bulls, but Verstappen quickly gained the lead after starting in second gear. He jumped from third to first at the start of the first lap, overtaking Hamilton on the first-left corner.
Both Verstappen and Hamilton struggled with the track at times. Verstappen half-spun during the restart but quickly got his car under control. Hamilton ended up in the gravel mid-race and lost a lap, dropping down to 8th. After the race was red-flagged, Hamilton managed to recover and jump up to second to make an admirable finish to the face.
Hamilton remains in the lead for the championship after gaining a point for the fastest lap.
Bottas vs Russell
Valterri Bottas started the race in the middle of the pack in 8th position, instead of his usual top three position. His race came to a dramatic pause after a crash with George Russell, the Williams driver who looks set for a future at Mercedes. The incident happened approaching Tamburello at lap 32 when Russell spun and took the Mercedes with him. It also came when Russell appeared set to bring home points for Williams.
There was clear tension between the two drivers, with Russell seemingly hitting Bottas on his helmet and the Finnish driver responding by giving him the middle finger. It seems there’s trouble in paradise for Toto Wollf’s drivers.
The crash resulted in a red flag for the race, which started again behind the safety car. While it knocked his team mate out of the race, the restart provided Hamilton with a valuable opportunity to chase back up the pack to win second place.
The Driver of the Day – Lando Norris
Perhaps the driver getting the most attention is McLaren’s Lando Norris. He arrived at the track with something to prove after having his time deleted during qualifying, which would have had him starting the race from 3rd position. Norris gave Hamilton a fight for second place, maintaining his lead for several laps with Hamilton attempting to overtake before clinging the spot in the final laps.
The McLaren driver was voted ‘Driver of the Day’ by the fans.
The Rest of the Pack
Leclerc narrowly missed out on third place after Hamilton’s recovering, ending up in just-ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz in fourth. Daniel Ricciardo clocked in at sixth, ahead of Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll. Fernando Alonso collected his first points since his F1 return after a post-race penalty saw Kimi Raikkonen drop from ninth, moving both Alonso and his teammate Esteban Ocon to 10th and 9th position.
With one point separating Verstappen and Hamilton, the Portugal Grand Prix looks set to be another dramatic showdown for the championship.