What the teams said - Race Day in Emilia Romagna
While one of their drivers barely put a foot wrong, the other couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble. Verstappen jumped into the lead with a brilliant start and pretty much stayed there untroubled throughout the whole race to record a stunning victory. But Perez dropped back at the start, was penalised for overtaking behind the Safety Car, and spun off twice. After the highs of yesterday, it wasn’t the performance the Mexican would have been hoping for.
Max Verstappen, 1st
"I am of course very happy with this win for everyone in the Team and Honda. I think the key was of course the start as we had a great launch. I surprised myself as it was always hard to get off the line in the wet last year but we worked hard to try and improve that and it worked. The conditions were challenging out there, especially in the beginning and it was very hard to stay on track but we stayed out of trouble.
"I wouldn’t call it a dominant performance as Lewis was following me quite well and for him to come back to second after his incident means they have a lot of pace in that car. We won because we made the right calls with tyres at the right time and the Team managed everything well in these conditions. With the tyres degrading, choosing the right moment to go onto slicks wasn’t easy but we got it right.
"I had a little moment at the restart trying to warm up the tyres with some throttle but luckily we didn’t spin. We still have to work hard to improve because it’s very close, but for now I’m very happy with the result. I’m looking forward to Portimão because it’s an amazing track and then we go to a track we all know well in Barcelona. We’ll see what we can do but so far, it’s been a good start to the year."
Sergio Perez, 11th
"The conditions out there were really difficult today and I made quite a few mistakes that were very costly. I struggled to retain any temperature in the tyres, so I lost it under the safety car and I got a 10-second penalty. It is of course important that I get used to the car and that I learn these lessons, but I messed up, I’m very disappointed in myself and really sorry to the Team. I think at the re-start the podium was ours and the pace of the car was good today, we should have finished one and two on the podium. Let’s focus on the next race now, we will work really hard as a Team and come back stronger."
Christian Horner, Team Principal
"It is fantastic for us to get the victory here today, particularly after losing such a close race in Bahrain. Max drove impeccably all afternoon with no mistakes and the Team made some perfectly timed pit stop calls, making this a thoroughly deserved victory and an important one for us. Max was pumped up for the race, with a great start giving him momentum down into Turn 1 where we saw two tough drivers pushing to the limit for track position which is what everyone wants to see. Lewis was still very quick today which could be seen particularly towards the end of the race when they seemed to have very low tyre degradation.
"I think they maybe had a quicker car than us today but it’s great to get that first victory of the season under our belts. It was a real shame for Sergio after such a brilliant day yesterday and nothing went his way which is frustrating for him, but he’s becoming more and more comfortable with the car and you can guarantee that he will come back strong. Now we need to build on this momentum for the remainder of the season and we are going to have to go some way to keep Mercedes under pressure."
Hamilton lost the lead through the first few corners, damaging his front wing in the process. He still looked on for a solid second place, before making a rare mistake and sliding off into the gravel under his own steam, further damaging that front wing. The resultant pit stop dropped him the ninth, but helped by the red flags and Safety Car, he was able to scythe his way back through the field to finish where he arguably would have anyway. Bottas struggled today by comparison, unable to make headway after starting eighth. He was battling with Russell when the two collided, both flying off into the barriers and out of the race.
Lewis Hamilton, 2nd
"Considering I was facing the barrier at one stage, then a lap down, yeah, it was a difficult day in that regard. I had some really good pace in the rain and was catching but just a little bit impatient, maybe, with the backmarkers. I'm only human so these mistakes happen. I'm grateful that I was back in the race and could hunt down and get back to second. The car had a rough time today. I started first, should have been first at the finish but these things are sent to test us and we've got a great battle on our hands. Game on."
Valtteri Bottas, DNF
"I'm okay physically. It was a half-decent shunt but obviously could have been a lot worse at that speed. George got close and decided to go for a move. Obviously the track is quite narrow, there is only one dry line and he went for the outside, there was space all the time for two cars but he obviously lost the car and hit me. I haven't spoken to him so far: I couldn't hear a thing what he was on about and obviously we will have a different perspective on it. It was a tough race until then, from where I started it wasn't easy to make ground. But I need to take whatever positives I can from this weekend and move on."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Leading the Championship with the fastest lap is one thing but what actually gives it a silver lining or positive connotation today is that we seem to have a really quick race car.
Unfortunately, the crash between George and Valtteri was unnecessary. Valtteri had a difficult first 30 laps and shouldn't have been there but George should have never launched into this manoeuvre considering that the track was drying up. It meant taking risks and the other car is a Mercedes in front of him and in any drivers' development as a young driver you must never lose this global perspective. Lots to learn for him I guess.
Apart from that we had all highs and lows from the incident in the first corner which cost us two tenths in aero performance on Lewis' car. Then we had Lewis hitting the barrier on lap 31. The recovery drive from Lewis after the race restarted was really brilliant, ten out of ten.
Overall, today was very difficult to judge because of the circumstances but we had a very good car today in the wet and in the drying up. We are slowly starting to understand it but according to the data we are still not having a car and power unit that can match the Red Bull Honda."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"On lap 31 it was difficult imagine how things could get any worse. We had Lewis stuck in the gravel with a broken wing and Valtteri out with a massive amount of damage. So, leaving here still in the lead of both championships is quite a relief and I suppose we should be grateful for that.
For Lewis it was very much a race of two halves. The early part was defined by the damage to the front wing after the contact with Max - that improved slightly when the footplate came away completely but we still had a chunk of load and balance missing. As such, we were a bit surprised when Lewis was able to close in on Max towards the end of the intermediate stint. The transition to dry was okay, warm-up was a challenge and I think we look worse than our competitors in this regard but as we didn't have time to change the wing it was always going to be a struggle to put Max under pressure. That became a bit of a moot point when Lewis slid off passing some traffic and lost a load of time and positions. The suspended race allowed us the chance to repair the car and in the final stint we saw what it was capable of. It was a great recovery by Lewis and an impressive fastest lap.
Valtteri's day was even more difficult. He was finding the warm-up more of a challenge than Lewis, struggling mainly with rear grip. That was the case on both inter and slick tyres but on the transition to dry it was particularly bad. He got swamped by a few cars and ultimately, that was what started the events that triggered the crash with George and the end of this race. Overall, a frustrating weekend and one where we have plenty of areas that we need to look to for improvement."
Norris was left disappointed yesterday, but not so today. He was demonstrably quicker than his team mate and once let past, disappeared up the road ahead. He gambled on soft tyres during the red flag period which paid off handsomely when he picked off Leclerc for second. Some heroic defending couldn’t keep a recovering Hamilton at bay, and the youngster had to make do with an excellent third for his second-ever podium. As for Ricciardo, he is still struggling to get to grips with his new machinery, but came home with a good haul of points.
Lando Norris, 3rd
"Obviously very happy to get a podium. A very well-executed race from the team and from myself. I think I drove very well – I made a lot of good decisions – but it wasn't easy. The beginning of the race was pretty tough. A bit of contact here and there, not a perfect start but I kept my head cool. I kept focused throughout because sometimes you know you’ve got to expect the red flags and the Safety Cars and think that more opportunities can come towards you later in the race. So, I kept that in mind and solidly came back through.
"There were a couple of people crashing and making mistakes ahead of me, which is what we’re here to take advantage of, and then we made a good decision at the end to go onto the soft tyres and get ahead of Leclerc. We almost held on to P2 but not quite. It was a tough race, but very rewarding for myself and more importantly for the team, so a big thanks to them for bringing new parts, and working so hard on the car back at the factory to make it better every weekend."
Daniel Ricciardo, 6th
"One of those races where you’ve got rain on the laps to grid and you’re not really sure how it’s going to go. I managed to get a position at the start and was then running in fifth for a bit. Just as the track started to dry I grained the front right, so I couldn’t really keep a good pace.
"For the restart, we put on thesSoft tyre to make the most of a potential standing start. I tried to keep on top of the soft until the end of this long stint but, just couldn’t really manage it. I think both front and rear tyres I struggled with.
"So, certainly not an awesome race, but I think to come home sixth is good for the Constructors’ points with Lando in third. Congrats to Lando, he had a great race and it's awesome to see the car has the pace. My race pace was nothing too special. I’ve just got to keep working on it and improve."
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal
"An exciting race today and a great show for the fans. A podium for Lando is a great reward for the whole team, and the hard work that’s gone in here at the track and back at the factory this weekend – but also for the effort over the winter to get us to this point from the team in Woking and our colleagues at Mercedes.
"Great call today to restart on the Soft tyre after the red flag. That gave us an edge and allowed Lando to take the place from Charles [Leclerc]. Lando was flying all weekend and managed a lot of tricky situations today in difficult conditions. He and his team managed brilliantly to get this well-deserved podium. Daniel did a great job too. He’s not yet fully confident in the car – which is understandable – but he put in a clean race, made good decisions and scored a lot of points that will be valuable both for himself and for the team.
"After two strong weekends to start the season, we now have our sights set on keeping the momentum going in Portimão."
Despite spinning on his way to the grid, Leclerc drove a clean race and seemed to be destined for a podium for much of the afternoon. He got the better of Perez on the first lap, and inherited second when Hamilton went off. But the Monegasque was picked off by Norris at the final restart and then lost out to a recovering Hamilton. Fourth is still a solid result, ably backed up by his team mate who spun twice but managed plenty of clean overtakes to climb up from 11th on the grid to fifth at the flag.
Charles Leclerc, 4th
"It was an interesting race, although a bit frustrating, because I was in a really good place before the red flag which wiped out the advantage we had built up in the first part of the race. Unfortunately, I struggled after the restart, since I was vulnerable in the straights and that made it difficult to fight or defend from others. In fact we had taken a bit of a gamble with some more downforce, which helped us in the rain, but made it more difficult for us when it was dry in the second part of the race.
"Overall, I’m very happy with the performance we had today. There is definitely a lot of motivation. We are fighting for more interesting positions now and this is positive. We have been working well and if we keep it up, I’m sure that we will be fighting for the top places soon."
Carlos Sainz, 5th
"That was a very solid race today. The conditions at the start were very tricky, with very poor visibility, but I went for it and managed to make up quite a lot of positions after the start. This was the second race and my first time in the wet with the car, which was an unknown situation for me, but taking risks and finding the limit paid off, despite losing race time with a couple of mistakes here and there.
"My pace was very strong in the wet and also very solid in the dry, so I’m happy with that. I was quite comfortable all along, and starting P11 with a P5 finish is encouraging. I just need to keep my head down and continue working in this direction, because I think it’s the correct one. Collecting solid points today was definitely good for the team and I am very pleased with the double points finish."
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal
"On a completely different track and in very different conditions to the first race of the season, this result confirms that the work we are doing is going in the right direction. The fact we are unhappy about not getting at least one driver onto the podium is further proof of that. We can definitely say the outcome of these first two races is a positive one.
"Not since the second half of 2019, specifically the races in Japan and Mexico that year, have we had both drivers in the points in two consecutive races. We must continue like this and show, race by race, that we know how to improve. Now I can’t wait to go to Portimão for the next Grand Prix!"
Disaster befell Aston Martin before the lights had even gone out. A brake fire for Stroll led to lengthy repairs to both cars, with Vettel winding up forced to start from the pit lane. Worse was the come for the German, who was handed a penalty for his car not being ready on time. He later retired with a gearbox issue on what can only be described as a bad day at the office. Stroll though, brake problem aside, had a decent race and managed to add to his points haul by keeping his head in the wet. He was penalised post-race for overtaking off the track, which dropped him one place to eighth.
Sebastian Vettel, DNF
"Things did not go our way today. Even before the race, we had issues going to the grid and I had to start from the pit lane. That was not too painful because it was a wet start to the race, but the time penalty changed everything, especially because it came 20 minutes into the race. The track conditions were quite difficult in the beginning and it was hard to overtake, but a dry line soon appeared. We gambled on fitting the dry tyres early and, as the track dried more, there was a phase of the race where we were actually quite strong. Then there was the red flag, which was the right decision, and for the restart we chose to fit the soft tyres and gambled on a standing start happening, but they decided on a rolling start. Those soft tyres obviously had higher degradation compared to the medium, which made things more difficult at the end."
Lance Stroll, 8th
"That was a lot of fun with some exciting racing. We have scored some important points and I really enjoyed myself today. The weather made things a little bit interesting and we made the most of it. All credit to the crew on the grid for getting my car repaired after the brake problem, too. We also overcame a gear shift issue, which cost us lap time, but we managed to hang on until the end. It was just a very busy afternoon with so much happening, so I am really pleased to have scored six points. The car was nicely balanced this weekend, but we still have some work to do to catch the teams ahead of us. That is where our focus is now as we get ready for Portugal."
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
"After an Imola weekend that was challenging from a number of perspectives, Lance’s hugely impressive drive to seventh place, under pressure all the way through, lifted the spirits of everyone in the team. He had gear shift issues throughout, but managed them very capably, and did very well to hold off a fast-closing Pierre [Gasly] on the final lap. Sebastian had a troubled run that ended in a DNF just one lap from the end, which was disappointing for him and the team, but he got a lot of very useful mileage in the car, which is a positive because he is still playing catch-up to some extent as a result of his lack of running in pre-season testing. Both our cars suffered brake overheating problems on the way to the grid, and we are currently investigating the root cause in order to implement a permanent solution."
The AlphaTauri boys were in the thick of the action at their home race. Gasly gambled on starting on the full wets, which didn’t pay off and left him needing an extra stop for the intermediate rubber and well down the field. Helped by Safety Cars and the red flags, he was able to work his way back into the points. As for Tsunoda, he was on for a great recovery drive from last on the grid, but spun off at the last restart to drop down the order. This weekend can be chalked up as a learning experience for the rookie.
Pierre Gasly, 7th
"For sure, it’s been a rollercoaster of a day – we started from P5 but we made a different call with tyres at the start of the race and quickly ended up at the back. Obviously, I was very disappointed, but from there we kept fighting and after the red flag we managed to make our way forward again to cross the finish line in eighth position. Following the race, I’ve moved up into P7 and I’m pretty pleased with that as a finishing position – we managed to recover some crucial points for the team, which is really positive. We showed the potential of the car on Saturday and next time out we just need to put it all together across the whole weekend."
Yuki Tsunoda, 12th
"I think it was a fantastic race for the viewers at home but I’m very disappointed with myself and I just want to say sorry to the team. It’s a real shame that I spun after the red flag, up until that point I think the race was going pretty well and the pace was really good. This was the first time I’ve been in a Formula 1 car in the wet and I learnt you have to be so careful, especially with acceleration. Starting on the intermediate tyre during the rainy conditions made it even more difficult but it was a great opportunity for me to understand more how the compounds work in different conditions. I think points could have been on the table for me here today but it’s all a learning curve and I’ll take this experience with me to the next race."
Jody Egginton, Technical Director
"Today's race was certainly eventful and - although we have scored a few points with Pierre - we have to be honest and say we have made our lives more difficult than they needed to be and have not scored the points that the package was capable of this weekend. Obviously, the entire team is disappointed but together we will review today's race, in an open and pragmatic way, and address various topics that will allow us to deliver a stronger performance at the next Grand Prix."
The Alfa Romeo drivers both quietly worked their way up through the field and looked on for another double points finish here. But Giovinazzi was forced to pit late on with a brake issue, dropping him out of the points without any time to recover. Raikkonen did manage to sneak home in the top 10 once again, keeping Ocon at bay in the closing stages despite making a trip into the gravel like most of the field. The Finn was later deemed to have infringed regulations at the final restart after failing to retake his correct slot following a spin, and the resulting time penalty dropped him down the field.
Kimi Raikkonen, 13th
"It was a good recovery after yesterday and to take points from P16 on the grid would have been a great story. The conditions were very tricky, the track was slippery and it never fully dried up – it was so easy to make a mistake. We made a good start but couldn’t see anything in the spray; we did ok on the inters, they came back at the end of the stint but at that point the track was dry enough for slicks. We struggled a bit more after the red flag, but we were able to use the track layout to our advantage and keep everyone else behind to finish in P9. Unfortunately, we then got this penalty that means we don’t get anything to show for it, but at least we can look positively at our performance. We have been fighting for the points two races in a row, hopefully we can keep improving even more."
Antonio Giovinazzi, 14th
"We were having a fantastic race until our issue and it was a matter of finally being able to show our true race potential. The conditions at the beginning of the race were very difficult, they reminded me of Hockenheim 2019 with very poor visibility. Kimi and I were both running in the points and to finish with both cars in the top ten was definitely on the cards, but unfortunately we had a technical issue with one of the brakes that required a pit stop. I focus on the positives: we have a good car and we can fight for a top 10 finish in most races. Hopefully luck will be more on our side in the future and we can get the rewards we deserve."
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal
"Once again we demonstrated we have a car that can fight for points on a Sunday, even though we are left to rue not bringing home what would have been a very positive result. The conditions weren’t easy and we did a good job as a team to be in the fight. Kimi needed all his experience to keep his rivals behind at the end of the race, while it was obviously very disappointing that a technical problem got Antonio out of a very good position when we were looking at having two cars in the top ten. This issue, and the penalty that took away our two points, aside, today’s result gives us confidence for the next races, although it was another reminder of how small the margins are in the midfield and how we have to keep improving to keep ahead of the nearest rivals."
Ocon opened up his points tally today, despite a few off-track excursions. He did so at the expense of his team mate, who had a tough afternoon. Alonso needed a new front wing before the race had even started after sliding off on his way to the grid and things didn’t improve a whole lot from there. He did make it up into the points but couldn’t stay there, losing out to Gasly and then his team mate on a frustrating day. The Spaniard did later inherit the last point on offer after penalties were awarded post-race to a number of drivers.
Esteban Ocon, 9th
"It was a challenging race today in hard conditions. There were lots of opportunities out there, we managed to score a point, a decent result and a good reward for the team’s hard work. There was potentially more on the table. It was a long, physical race and flat out right until the end after the restart. I had some fun fights out there, especially with Fernando. Now, we look forward to the next race weekend."
Fernando Alonso, 10th
"It was tricky today as we had several different conditions, starting the race in the wet and finishing in the dry. I took a lot of learnings after driving in these conditions again. In Formula 1, you don’t get any preparation, and with one and a half days of testing it’s not easy. Overall, I would say it was like four race experiences all in one. I think the car is better this weekend, which is positive but it’s still very tight between a number of cars. We’ll go again in Portugal."
Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director
"We scored our first point of the season today and we had to work hard for it. Both cars had poor starts in wet conditions and lost several positions on the first lap, which is something we need to understand. In the dry, our pace was pretty decent with both drivers together on the track and coming back towards the points positions. Esteban got stuck behind Räikkönen for the final part of the race and couldn’t make the move, underlining how difficult it is to overtake here. We leave Imola with bittersweet feelings; pleased to have our first point of the season, but it was a race that didn’t go as it could have for us. We move onto the next race hungry for more."
Mazepin was involved in a racing incident with Latifi which ended the Canadian’s race, but managed the tricky conditions well towards the back of the field before a late spin blotted his copybook. As for Schumacher, he managed to crash trying to keep heat in his tyres towards the pit lane exit. Minus a front wing, he limped all the way round the track, only to find the pit lane closed as marshals recovered his own front wing. That aside, he recovered well to pip his team mate to 16th.
Mick Schumacher, 16th
"It was my first time in a Formula 1 car in the wet conditions – it definitely wasn’t easy. To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what happened at the moment I spun, it went quite quickly. I don’t know if I was too aggressive or if it was a puddle or whatever. It’s something we’ll analyse but I’m quite disappointed in myself. We’d had good position up until then. Overall, I think it was a positive race, we finished 16th and we were good in terms of pace. We saw the chequered flag and that was the goal."
Nikita Mazepin, 17th
"So much happened in this race, from starting on the wets having not really expected it as the sunshine wasn’t long before the start, then a red flag and loads of things basically happening. We just weren’t really fast enough today to fight with others. It was a good learning experience in the bag though and to see the chequered flag was good. I don’t think Nicolas (Latifi) knew I was there when he came back across the track. I gave him all the room I had but I just don’t think he was aware that I was there. I think it was just unfortunate for him. I don’t think anyone had an easy one today, but I guess it was a very exciting race for the fans."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
"We got two cars home in what was quite an eventful race with the changing weather conditions. There were a few things thrown our way again but ultimately, we recovered and finished the race with both Nikita (Mazepin) and Mick (Schumacher) at the chequered – which is good. That’s what I always want, that we do the laps, and that the guys learn. I want them to keep improving and especially for Nikita, it was good today that he finished the race after missing out in Bahrain. He now has a complete race under his belt. Mick did well to recover from the earlier part of his race. As much as it’s not the result that makes you happy, what makes you happy is that we made progress. That was our plan, and if we can continue to work like this – with less mistakes and more performance, that’s what we’re here for this year."
A day that promised so much, but just didn’t deliver. Latifi was in the barriers and out of the car before the first lap had even finished after contact with the Haas of Mazepin. Russell though, looked on for his first points for the team, until he tried an ambitious move on Bottas. The two collided and wound up in the barriers as well, in an incident the Williams man felt was firmly the fault of his rival in the heat of the moment. The search for points continues.
George Russell, DNF
"I think it was a very unfortunate incident and one that could have been avoided. Valtteri was defending hard, and he is in his right to do so. The track was going left, and he was going straight. In these conditions with one dry line, it only had one outcome. It is frustrating but that is Formula 1."
Nicholas Latifi, DNF
"In the end it was not the result we wanted, so that is frustrating from my side. It was my mistake in tricky conditions, even the laps to the grid were difficult and the spray was the worst I have ever seen it. I had the first spin off from a bit of rear locking and then I re-joined the track. I tried to stay on the left-hand side but naturally the driver line takes you back to the right, so I knew I couldn’t just cut back across. I didn’t see Mazepin when I joined the track but looking at the replay, I have seen we made contact and that sent me into the wall. It was an unfortunate end to the weekend as it was my mistake, so I’m really sorry to the team for that."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"It’s extremely disappointing to be leaving Imola with neither car having finished the race. We have had a decent weekend throughout, and in tricky conditions today we made good and timely decisions. Although Nicholas found it a little difficult at the start on the Intermediate tyres, he was unfortunate to touch the Haas and crash out. George was good on the intermediate tyres and did a great job behind the safety car to keep the car in a good state. As we moved to slick tyres we were in a strong position and although there was still a long way to go, George was comfortable and managing his car and tyres well. We had the pace and speed to overtake Bottas, and had we been able to make the move cleanly we looked set for a strong finish.
"We can take a lot of positives from this weekend as the car and drivers have performed well and have been backed up by some excellent work in the garage and in Grove. We missed a good opportunity to score points today, but we got ourselves into a good position on merit and with many races remaining in the season, we should be confident of getting another good opportunity soon."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"We had a red flag that split the race into two distinct parts following an incident that underlined the difficulty of Imola, which was made even more complicated by the uncertain and cool weather. With no previous running on the intermediate and wet tyres over the weekend, teams had to work out the crossover points as they went along. But a clear dry line emerged, with Verstappen and Red Bull timing their stop perfectly to move ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the pits. Once the race was re-started after the red flag, most of the drivers used the medium tyres, which provided a good balance between performance and durability throughout the significant portion of the race that was dry. However, a number of the frontrunners – including Norris on the podium – switched to the soft for the re-start, which also performed strongly in the final run to the finish of a memorable race, where we were honoured to be title sponsor".