Home Sport Verstappen holds off charging Norris to win at Imola

Verstappen holds off charging Norris to win at Imola

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The win was Verstappen’s fifth in seven races this season, the 59th of his career and the third time in a row at Imola. Last year’s race at the Italian circuit was cancelled due to heavy flooding.

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen leaves the pits after a stop during the Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari race track in Imola on May 19, 2024. Picture: Luca Bruno, POOL, AFP

Alan Baldwin, at IMOLA, Italy – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen held off a late charge by McLaren’s Lando Norris to win the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by less than a second on Sunday.

The triple Formula One world champion took the chequered flag just 0.725 of a second ahead of the man who beat him at the previous round in Miami.

The win was Verstappen’s fifth in seven races this season, the 59th of his career and the third time in a row at Imola. Last year’s race at the Italian circuit was cancelled due to heavy flooding.

“I had no grip anymore. I was sliding a lot. I saw Lando closing in. The last 10 laps were flat out,” said a relieved Verstappen, who had appeared set for another easy win but had to sweat ultimately for the spoils.

“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.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third at the Italian team’s atmospheric home track, 7.916 off the pace, for his fourth podium finish of the season and a home race to come in Monaco next weekend.

The victory extended Verstappen’s championship lead to 48 points, with Leclerc now his closest rival after Red Bull’s Sergio Perez started 11th and finished only eighth.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri finished fourth with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz fifth and the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell sixth and seventh.

Lance Stroll was ninth for Aston Martin and Yuki Tsunoda took the final point for Red Bull’s Faenza-based RB team in their home race.

Verstappen held off Norris at a start without incident, the top four then running in grid order at a track where overtaking can be tricky.

What had looked like being one of the dullest races so far this year came to life as Norris began eating into Verstappen’s lead in the closing laps.

He was 1.1 seconds adrift starting the final lap but just ran out of time.

“It hurts me to say but one or two more laps I think I would have had him,” said the Briton.

“We are at a point now where we can say we are in the position with Ferrari and Red Bull. We have to get used to it. We are fighting for first and second now.”

Williams’ Alex Albon collected a 10-second stop and go penalty for a botched tyre change, with the Thai having to return to the pits for a second stop due to a suspected loose front wheel.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso also attracted attention when his front left brakes caught fire in the pits.

Reuters

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Andrew Heavens and Pritha Sarkar

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