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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) chased by norris

Emilia-Romagna GP: Verstappen made to sweat hard by Norris

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 leads Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) chased by norris

Max Verstappen had to dig super deep to keep Lando Norris at bay to win the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Round 7 of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola.

The top three – Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Charles Leclerc – ended the race as they started on the grid a couple of hours earlier. The race developed into a stalemate from the moment the lights went out to start the 31st Grand Prix at Imola. An orderly start set the tone for an incident-free GP. Thankfully, no Safety Car in sight!

Even the pitstops did little to change matters at the sharp end. With the top guys on the limit, the cars so close and no mistakes, it turned boring. Until it got super tasty with a massive last half dozen laps wake-up call of pure F1 action.

The stalemate was a pretext for an epic final lap battle between Norris and Verstappen. The Red Bull no longer as dominant as it was earlier this season, and Norris a Miami GP victory repeat.

The two mates were giving it all, Verstappen has not worked as hard for a Grand Prix as this one, while Norris chased as hard as he ver had. The top two drivers today, are probably the top two drivers on the grid to day. For McLaren, it was too much too late, but encouraging.

For the World Champions, this was a proper test and proved why Verstappen is who he is. Taking the Red Bull RB20 that was only good for P8 in Sergio Perez’s hands and keeping the formidable McLarens at bay, Verstappen showed why he deserves the big bucks.

Victory number 59 and fifth win of the season for Verstappen, probably one of the sweetest much like his pole position on Saturday. But there are signs that 2024 might not be a cruise for the World Champions.

Perez had a forgettable weekend, too many mistakes for a veteran one could argue. No appearance in Q3 compromised his race which was a recovery run from P11 to P8, with a sefl-inflicted trip through the gravel along the way while his teammate dished out perfect laps on the edge, under extreme pressure.

Verstappen: I’m super happy to win here today

After his second victory at Imola, Verstappen said: “The whole race I had to push flat out to try and make a gap initially. On the medium tyres we were quite strong. On the hard tyres it was more difficult to manage, especially the last 10 to 15 laps. I had no grip anymore. I was sliding a lot. I saw Lando closing in. The last 10 laps were flat out.

“It’s difficult when the tyres were not working anymore and you have to go flat out. I couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes. Luckily we didn’t. I’m super happy to win here today,” added the reigning F1 World Champion, who increased his lead to 58n points in this year’s campaign.

Norris, who tasted his first F1 victory last time out in Miami, was itching for a repeat. He kept Verstappen honest, with the lead pegged at around 6-8 seconds for most of the race, both beofre and after the pitstops.

With about half a dozen laps to go, the McLaren picked up the pace and it was clear the #1 Red Bull was vulnerable as the gap dropped at about half a second per lap. But Norris needed this to be a 65 lap race, but it was only 63. The gap was 0.725s as P1 and P2 crossed the Imola finish line.

Norris: One or two more laps I think I would have had him

“It hurts me to say but one or two more laps I think I would have had him,” lamented Norris in parc ferme. “Tough. A shame. I fought hard right until the very last lap but just lost out a little bit too much to Max in the beginning, he was much better in the first stint. In the second stint we were stronger.

“It was a tough first half and a much better second half and one or two more laps and it would have been beautiful, but just not today. I think we’re at the point now where we can happily say we are in the position of Ferrari and Red Bull,” added Norris, who was voted Driver of the Day by F1 fans.

Teammate Oscar Piastri paid the price for a three-place grid penalty for impeding during Qualifying. From P2 his story would have been vastly different. Nevertheless, the young Aussie did well to push hard all race, and in the end, claimed P4 after stalking and getting by Carlos Sainz during the pitstops. The Ferrari driver finishing P5

Charles Leclerc was better than his teammate all weekend at Imola. P3 for Ferrari was consolation for the Tifosi who packed the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari to the rafters as they cheered their beloved team on. There was small talk of victory for the Reds before the GP weekend on home soil.

Leclerc: It’s incredible to be on the podium with all the Tifosi here in Imola

The Ferrari SF-24 upgrades looked good in practice, but they have McLaren and Red Bull to contend with. But they are closer to Verstappen than they have been for some time.

Leclerc said on his way to the podium: “Of course, I’m only very happy when I win. We were fast at the beginning of the stint on the hard. I tried to push to put some pressure on Lando but later on they were incredibly quick. All in all, the race pace was quite strong.

“We lacked pace in Qualifying. After looking, we missed out on the first straight. On the rest of the lap we were quick, so it’s looking good for the rest of the season. It’s incredible to be on the podium with all the Tifosi here in Imola,” beamed Leclerc.

Mercedes were best of the rest. Pretty anonymous at the head of a midfield that faded as the Grand Prix progressed. 35 seconds behind the winners, half a second per lap in race trim will not sit well with the German team. But they have to live with it until they figure out their car.

George Russell was ahead of Lewis Hamilton for most of the race. They then pitted George late on, apparently for a puncture which gifted the #44 car P6 with George P7.

Lance Stroll finished P8 for Aston Martin, on a weekend in which they were almost anonymous, and ‘the real’ Alonso was nowhere to be found. Crashing, beaten by his teammate in Qualy and an invisible race.

Yuki Tusnoda deserved the final point, as the VCARB driver has upped his game. Always better than Daniel Ricciardo, the Japanese driver is starting to make a case for the Red Bull senior team seat with his perfromances.

Report in progress…

2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Top 10 Result

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2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: How the race unfolded at Imola

Grid Top 10: VER-NOR-LEC-SAI-PIA-RUS-TSU-HAM-RIC-HUL

Most of the field on new Mediums. Perez on Hards, Gasly on Softs, as well as Alonso starting in the pitlane.

Equal reaction times by just about all who filed cleanly through the opening corners. No change top five. Both VCARBs dropping two positions, Perez into top 10. Hulkenberg up to into P8. All very well-behaved.

Verstappen pulls 1.0s gap to Norris in P2 who hangs on trying to break into DRS range, ditto to Leclerc in P3 with Sainz and Piastri in his mirrors.

Crucially, Verstappen not able to pull away as he has tended to do (sometimes by over a second per lap) in early races this season. But was edging ahead, setting the fastest lap at this point.

Piastri stalking Sainz. Battle for P9 with Tsunoda fending off Perez in DRS range.

Lap 9 first stops with Gasly, Bottas, Alonso and Albon pitting for Hards. But the Williams crew did not bolt the wheel on properly. Unsafe relief by an outfit looking like the Keystone Cops of F1 which Williams have become.

Lap 10: VER-NOR-LEC-SAI-PIA-RUS-HAM-HUL-TSU-PER

Verstappen leading by 2.7s, with Norris P2 a couple of seconds ahead of Leclerc in P3. Sainz a further 2,2s down on his teammate, with Piastri hunting P4, less battling hard for every tenth of a second on track.

Tsunoda pits from ninth as does Alonso with the brakes on his Aston Martin on fire. Hulkenberg next of the top ten to pit, but emerges behind the VCARB getting the undercut done. Piastri still in DRS range of Sainz for P4. At the same time Leclerc is edging closer to Norris in P2.

Lap 18 Perez slides off over the sand at Rivazza, losing five seconds just when he looked to be making a solid recovery.

Lap 20: VER-NOR-LEC-SAI-PIA-RUS-HAM-PER-STR-OCO

The top ten are out of sync. All still to pit for fresh rubber. Verstappen leads Norris by 5.9s who is up 1.8s on Leclerc in P3, a further 4.1s behind was Sainz with Piastri in DRS but guns holstered after a few attempts earlier on. The McLaren was quicker, but frustrated by the Ferrari ahead.

Russell and Hamilton pit on lap 22 from P6 and P7. A lpa later Norris dives into the pits, first of the potential winners to play his hand. This triggered a flurry of pitlane action as the responses ensued.

Norris emerges behind Perez. At the front Verstappen still leads, 8.3 over Leclerc now in P2. Piastri is next to be boxed by McLaren.

On lap 24, on fresh Hards Norris breezes past Perez on older Hards. No contest, and little tile lost by the Briton.

Verstappen hard on the brakes, tyres smoking as he attacked the pits on lap 25 for his tyre change. He emerges P4, with Leclerc and Sainz now P1 and P2 for Ferrari. Hamilton in P3.

Lap 26 Leclerc pit for the first time. Only Sainz, Hamilton and Perez yet to stop of the front-runners at this stage. The #44 Mercedes went off track on this lap, as fresh-Pirelli-ed Leclerc edged past Perez.

Sainz and Hamilton into the pits. Verstappen back in the lead, with Norris 5.5s adrift in P2, 3.9s ahead of Leclerc and PIastri 1.3s further back in P4. The podium was by no means settled at this point.

Lap 30: VER-NOR-LEC-PIA-SAI-PER-RUS-STR-HAM-MAG

Perez in P5 as well as Stroll and Magnussen the only drivers yet to stop in the top ten.

Verstappen leads Norris by 6.5s who has Leclerc chasing a further 3.0s back. On lap 31 Piastri, who jumped Sainz in the pitstops sets fastest lap and gets within DRS of Leclerc. Game on for P3.

On lap 37, Hamilton gets past Perez. The top seven now all on their second set pf Pirellis. Perez and Stroll get the call to pit a lap later. The second Red Bull follows as does Magnussen. Planned pitstop window over.

Lap 40: VER-NOR-LEC-PIA-SAI-RUS-HAM-TSU-HUL-PER

Verstappen leading Norris by 6.7s with Leclerc 2.0s further back reeling in the McLaren. Pretty much as they were before the scheduled stops began.

Stalemate throughout with Perez the only one in the top ten within DRS range Hulkenberg ahead in P9. On lap 42 the Red Bull was past with sights set on Tsunoda in P8 and within DRS range.

An easy pass for Perez over Tsunoda to take P8. Hamilton in P7 was 29.9s ahead.

On lap 43 Imola erupts as Tifosi cheer on Leclerc who has Norris in DRS range. Out of the blue Alonso sets the fastest lap! No point as he is way out of the top 10 on a forgettable weekend for the Spanish veteran.

With a Norris vs Leclerc battle in progress and both pushing hard, Verstappen was being reeled in by the McLaren, a couple of tenths here and there.

On lap 47, Stroll bumps Hulkenberg out of the points.

Lap 50: VER-NOR-LEC-PIA-SAI-RUS-HAM-PER-TSU-STR

P1 Verstappen is 5.8s ahead of P2 Norris who has 2.5s on chasing Leclerc with Piastri P5, Sainz P6 followed by the two Mercs. Stalemate.

On lap 51, Stroll on the move gets past Tsunoda to take P9. Perez is 14 seconds ahead.

Russell pits which gifts Hamilton P6, George rejoins P7 2.2s up on Perez who sets the fastest lap and begins his chase. The Mercedes driver responds to go quickest.

Norris is pushing, the gap to Verstappen down to 2.8s on lap 55 and closing. Pressure on as the gap narrowed, but in the end Norris gave it everything as did Verstappen. And the race at Imola ended as it started: Verstappen P1, Norris P2, Leclerc P3.


Preview: 2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

2024 Imola f1 grid

Imola on Sunday has all the ingredients to be a cracker of a race, with Max Verstappen only just snatching pole from the chasing McLaren duo, while Ferrari may have misfired on Saturday. But Sunday at Imola could be another story altogether.

As has become usual, for the eighth time in a row, Verstappen will line up the #1 Red Bull in the P1 slot on the grid. What might have been P2 for Oscar Piastri’s McLaren, is now teammate Lando Norris sharing the front row with Max.

A ‘baulking’ penalty cost Piastri three grid spots. He will start P5 behind an all Red second row, which is not a bad place to be for the start at Imola. This could be an Oscar-winning day as he just gest better with every GP he adds to his CV.

For the Imola weekend at home, Ferrari unleashed the first significant upgrades for their SF-24. Out-the-box they were on song throughout free practice. But neither Charles Leclerc nor Carlos Sainz could find pole-challenging pace.

However, Ferrari race pace, smart strategy and a helping of Imola luck (if she is dishing out any today) could see them challenging for victory. But the McLarens are also looking very solid, and Verstappen will as usual be almost unbeatable. But beatable on merit he is as Norris proved in Miami.

In terms of pecking order, it appears Red Bull and Ferrari are evolving relative to the rest of the field, except McLaren whose Miami-released upgrade has taken them above Ferrari in the pecking order closer to Verstappen’s Red Bull than ever before it seems.

Max versus the McLarens with Checo down in P11

Two versus one because Sergio Perez was half a second shy of Verstappen’s timesheet topping Q2 time. Another disappointing Qualyfor the veteran a disappointing Qualifying. Axed in Q2 and beaten by both VCARBs is not good optics and will not go down well in the Red Bull camp.

He has work to do to turn 11th into anything reasonable, considering the fact his teammate is contending for victory. An important Sunday for Perez.

Beyond the top five, unless force majeure intervenes and creates havoc, it is hard to see anyone else winning the 31st Grand Prix at Imola, even a podium will be tough if those starting P1 to P5 survive the 63-lap race.

Mercedes, now firmly rooted in the F1 midfield with their W15, with George Russell (P6) and Lewis Hamilton (P8) lining up nose to tail will be hard-pressed to fight for podiums with the pace they have in their troublesome car. Underperforming has become the mantra of a team that not too long ago could not stop winning.

In contrast, overperforming were both the VCARBs. Yuki Tsunoda impresses with every outing these days. The best of the Japanese driver is emerging this season as he continues to get the better of Daniel Ricciardo.

The pair will straddle the Mercs on the grid, with Yuki lining up P7 and Dan in P9. It will be interesting…

Other Imola storylines to watch out for:

  • Freefall for Nico Hulkenberg starting P10?
  • Anyone see the Aston Martins and Stake Saubers? Please tell them the weekend at Imola has started!
  • Who prangs first? Logan or Lance or Lewis? Or how about Max and Lando?
  • Not much else of note to look out for down in Backmarkerville…

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola | Facts & Stats by Reuters

imola aerial f1 track 2024 emilia romagna gp

  • Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola
  • Round 7 of the 24-race 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship (First European race)
  • No race held in 2023 due to flooding.
  • Lap distance: 4.909km. Total distance: 309.049km (63 laps)
  • 2022 pole position: Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull one minute 27.999 seconds
  • 2022 winner: Verstappen
  • Race lap record: Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1:15.484 (2020)
  • Start time: 1300GMT (1500 local)
  • The race, at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, is named after the surrounding region. It has previously been designated the Italian Grand Prix and San Marino Grand Prix. This will be the third Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
  • Anti-clockwise Imola hosted the 1980 Italian Grand Prix and was home to the San Marino Grand Prix from 1981 until 2006, when seven times world champion Michael Schumacher won for a record seventh time.
  • Sunday will be the 31st F1 world championship race held at the circuit.
  • Brazilian triple F1 world champion Ayrton Senna and Austrian Roland Ratzenberger died in accidents over the 1994 race weekend.
  • Hamilton (2020), Verstappen (2021 and 2022) and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso (2005) are the only current drivers to have won at Imola.
  • In the 30 races to date at Imola, 10 have been won from pole. Another nine winners have come from second on the starting grid. No winner has started lower than fifth.
  • Senna still holds the record for most poles at Imola, eight in total.
  • Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) and Oscar Piastri (McLaren) are racing at Imola for the first time.

2024 F1 World Championship Standings after 6 Rounds

2023 F1 Standings after Round 6 Miami Grand Prix

  • Verstappen has led the championship for a record 45 successive races dating back to Spain in May 2022 and arrives in Imola 33 points clear of Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez and 38 ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
  • Red Bull are 52 points clear of Ferrari and are sure to lead the standings until Monaco.
  • Verstappen has won four of six races this season, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz triumphant in Australia and McLaren’s Lando Norris in Miami.
  • Sainz and Norris are the only drivers to have beaten Red Bull since 2022.
  • Hamilton has a record 103 career victories from 338 starts but is chasing his first since 2021 — a run of 51 races without a win.
  • Red Bull won 21 of 22 races last year, with Verstappen victorious in a record 19, and have won 35 of the last 39.
  • The team have won 117 races and are fourth in the all-time list of winners. Ferrari lead with 244, McLaren have 184 and Mercedes 125.
  • Verstappen has won 58 grands prix and is third on the all-time list. Michael Schumacher is second on 91.

Pole Positions & Podiums

  • Hamilton has a record 104 career poles, his most recent in Hungary last year.
  • Verstappen has taken the first six poles of the season, and seven in a row including the last race of 2023.
  • The last driver to take pole in the first seven races was Frenchman Alain Prost with Williams in 1993, the best ever qualifying start to a season.
  • Verstappen has 103 career podiums, Hamilton 197.
  • The Red Bull driver set a record of 21 podiums in a season last year but Michael Schumacher remains the only driver to have stood on the podium in every race of a season (2002). Verstappen cannot equal that this year, having retired in Australia.

Milestones

  • The race will be a 300th F1 championship grand prix for Mercedes.
  • The race marks the 30th anniversary of the deaths of Senna and Ratzenberger. Four times champion Sebastian Vettel will drive Senna’s McLaren MP4/8 car in demonstration runs.