Race Report: Verstappen takes the win after a chaotic Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
It was a dramatic if somewhat chaotic day at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, drenched with rain, a few crunching crashes, a raised red flag and some incredibly close overtaking, at the end of which Max Verstappen took his first Italian GP win.
Joining him on the podium this afternoon was Mercedes’ world champion, Lewis Hamilton, who made a great comeback from 9th after taking a spin in an attempt to lap the Williams of George Russell on lap 31.
Lando Norris claimed the final podium place ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for his second top-three finish in F1.
Here’s how it happened:
From lights out, Hamilton was ambushed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, with Verstappen’s Red Bull coming off best, leading into turn one ahead of Hamilton.
Nicholas Latifi found the barriers in his Williams on lap one after contact with Nikita Mazepin’s Haas – sending him out of the race and summoning the Safety Car.
Sergio Perez lost two places after lights out and was down to 4th behind Leclerc, while Hamilton complained of damage to the front-wing endplate after taking too much kerb in his failed attempt to fight off Verstappen’s early attack.
While the safety car remained on track, Mick Schumacher in the Haas crashed on the exit of the pit lane, after losing control while warming his tyres.
Once the debris from Schumacher’s VF-21 was cleared and the pit lane reopened, the 21-year-old entered for a new nose and returned to the track.
Schumacher loses the rear end warming his tyres, and takes off the front wing
Racing resumed on lap 7 when the battle for P1 reignited between Hamilton and Verstappen – however, the Dutchman managed to stretch the lead to 3.3s by the end of the restart lap.
By lap 12 Lewis Hamilton began to find more pace in the W12 and began closing the gap to Verstappen.
As the weather cleared, Sebastian Vettel became the first to make the transition over to the dry Pirellis on lap 23 opting for the Medium compound.
Verstappen pitted from the lead on Lap 28, returning to the battle on track in third behind Leclerc, while Hamilton was now in front by 28.8s.
However, after pitting from the lead, Hamilton once again dropped to second with Verstappen’s Red Bull returning to first and stretching the lead to 5.4s.
At the halfway mark, Lewis Hamilton slid off the track and into the gravel after trying to lap the Williams of George Russell on lap 31 – after successfully freeing his W12 he returned to the track for a pitstop and now sat in 9th in the pecking order.
Just moments later disaster hit Valtteri Bottas and George Russell, after a collision on the run up to Turn Two saw the pair hit the barriers, causing major damage to both cars.
With debris littering the track, a red flag was summoned on Lap 34 – marking an end to the day for Russell and Bottas.
The race restarted with 17 remaining contenders heading to the track with 29 laps to go after a rolling start.
Lando Norris wasted no time and got ahead of Charles Leclerc immediately after racing resumed with Verstappen ahead by 1.3s on the first lap back.
Meanwhile, the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez spun off the track at the Villeneuve chicane and went into the gravel from P4 – returning to the track in 14th.
With 20 laps to go, Hamilton was up into 5th after overtaking Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo – closing the gap on Ferrari’s Sainz in P4 and just 12s off the lead.
With 10 laps to go, Verstappen had once again stretched the lead to 14.4s while Hamilton was just .3s off the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in 3rd – the battle for the podium places was far from over.
Lap 55 saw Hamilton launch himself back into the points after overtaking Leclerc – now the battle for P2 was on between the remaining Mercedes and McLaren’s Lando Norris, while Verstappen was 18s in the distance.
Norris demonstrated a superb defence until Lap 60 saw Hamilton land a long-awaited overtake for second place.