Thursday June 20, 2024

Verstappen edges Norris for F1 Emilia Romagna GP win

Published : 20 May 2024, 01:00

  By Michael Butterworth, Xinhua
Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the pole position during the qualifying session of the Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix held at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari race track in Imola, Italy, May 18, 2024. Photo: Xinhua by Qian Jun.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen survived a late onslaught from McLaren's Lando Norris to take victory in Sunday's Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, Italy.

Starting from pole position, Verstappen held off the challenge from Norris at the start, and for much of the race, appeared set for a routine win.

However, a late charge from Norris saw the Briton close the gap to Verstappen from 5.7 seconds on lap 50 to 1.6 seconds by lap 58 of 63.

Though it seemed as if Norris might be set to challenge for his second consecutive win, after having broken his duck last time out in Miami, Verstappen had just enough to keep the McLaren at bay, and duly took his 59th Grand Prix win by just 0.7 seconds.

"The whole race I had to push flat out to try and make a gap initially," said Verstappen, whose team had made several changes to the setup of his RB20 after having struggled in Friday's practice sessions.

"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.

"From where we started the weekend to now, we can be incredibly pleased with pole and the win."

For his part, Norris maintained that he could have overtaken Verstappen had the race lasted a little longer.

"It hurts me to say, but one or two more laps I think I would have had him," said Norris.

"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."

Behind the top two, Charles Leclerc gave the home fans something to cheer by taking the final podium place for Ferrari, with Norris' teammate Oscar Piastri finishing fourth.

Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz took fifth, ahead of the twin Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez had an underwhelming run to eighth after a poor qualifying performance on Saturday, with Lance Stroll ninth for Aston Martin, and Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top ten for RB.

Verstappen's win sees him extend his lead at the top of the Drivers' Championship, and the Dutchman now has 161 points. Leclerc moves up to second with 113, demoting Perez to third on 107 points.

In the Constructors' standings, Red Bull remain top with 268 points. Ferrari are second with 212, with McLaren third on 154 points.

The eighth round of the 2024 F1 season is next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.