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Verstappen: I was counting down the laps until the end

Verstappen: I was counting down the laps until the end

Verstappen: I was counting down the laps until the end

Max Verstappen admitted he was counting down laps towards in the final stage of the 2024 Emilia Grand Prix as he tried to keep a charging Lando Norris at bay.

Verstappen returned to winning ways after losing out to Norris in the previous race in Miami, but Sunday’s race at Imola was not a walk in the park, something he has become used to ever since Red Bull nailed the “ground effect” Formula 1 regulations that started in 2022.

Pole was achieved by the slightest of margins and with the aid of Nico Hulkenberg’s tow, not to mention Red Bull finding a better car setup from Friday to Saturday.

However, the race started with more promise for Verstappen who managed a decent gap on the first stint on Medium tyres, but after the pitstop, the #1 RB20 did not enjoy the Hard tyres.

Verstappen started struggling with Norris catching up as the former had to push as hard as possible without making any mistakes regarding track limits as he already had a black and white flag from the stewards. One more mistake and a five-second time penalty would be issued.

A bit of work to do for Red Bull

The triple F1 Champion said in Red Bull’s race report: “It was a close race today. I didn’t expect that the car would have that kind of pace at the beginning, which was nice and we were strong on the medium tyres.

“When we swapped to the hard tyres, it was a bit trickier to drive and more of a struggle to bring it to the end as tyres fell out of the operating window and we had really low grip.

“During the last ten laps I was really trying to survive on the tyres and managed to keep Lando behind, but it required a lot of focus as we were on the limit with the penalty,” he pointed out. “However, we managed to work through and take the win.

“I was definitely counting down the laps until the end and it was a great feeling when we took the chequered flag!” the Dutchman revealed.

“If you look at where we were at the beginning of the weekend, this was an extremely good result. There is a bit of work to do and things to analyse but we are looking forward to Monaco,” he concluded.

After struggling in qualifying and starting the race from 11th, Sergio Perez only managed eighth at the end of the Emilia Romagna GP.

Perez: Max had one of the best weekends I’ve seen from him in a while

The Mexican admitted that it would be a tall order to make amends in the race, he said: “We knew it was going to be a hard day today as the whole weekend was compromised from qualifying.

“Imola is a difficult track to overtake on so this was the maximum we could do today, especially we were struggling with traffic in the beginning on my first stint and on the hard tyres we had no margin to play around with the balance.

“We knew that McLaren were the fastest but Max had one of the best weekends I’ve seen from him in a while,” the Mexican added praising his teammate, “so a lot of praise for that and this was a great result for us.

“We have a few things we need to analyse and certainly some work to do as we head into the next race, but I’m looking forward to Monaco and hopefully we will continue our strong season and get some good momentum back,” Perez concluded.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner added: “It’s very satisfying to win a race like that when you have been pushed so hard.

“McLaren and Ferrari were very quick and it’s going to be a really tight fight with both teams, especially as the cars are converging which is what naturally happens when you have stable rules.

“Overall, it was a weekend to remember in Imola and the whole team is looking forward to going again next weekend in Monte Carlo,” the Briton concluded.

Verstappen still leads the F1 Drivers’ Championship, while Perez dropped from second to third, Charles Leclerc now second. Red Bull still lead the Constructors’ Standings.