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6 Winners and 5 Losers from Imola – Who excelled as F1 returned to Europe?

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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On paper it looked like just another Max Verstappen victory, but the reigning world champion had to absorb some intense pressure from friend and McLaren rival Lando Norris to take the spoils in Imola.

The duo will leave Italy in good spirits – but the same can’t be said for others in the field. As ever, Lawrence Barretto picks out his winners and losers from the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix…

Winner: Max Verstappen

This was one of the harder-fought of Max Verstappen’s growing list of Grand Prix victories, the Red Bull racer fending off a late race attack from Lando Norris to secure his 59th Grand Prix win.

The reigning world champion’s win percentage is now a remarkable 30.7%, surpassing Lewis Hamilton’s 30.4% to become the best on the current grid.

READ MORE: Verstappen thrilled to take Imola victory as he reflects on ‘very difficult’ issue during late-race challenge from Norris

That win – his fifth in seven Grands Prix in 2024 – helps extend his championship lead to 48 points and came on a day when he also won the iRacing Nurburgring 24 hours virtual race with his Team Redline sim team. Remarkable scenes.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing

Verstappen won his fifth Grand Prix of the season in Imola

Loser: Alex Albon

Alex Albon headed to Imola on the crest of a wave, having signed a new deal to extend his stay at Williams until at least the end of 2027.

But he didn’t have much to cheer about from the track action in Imola, the Thai driver enduring a problem with the front wheel during his pit stop that forced him to slow to a coast when out on track to stop the wheel falling off.

READ MORE: What the teams said – Race day in Imola

While he recovered to the pits and got a new set bolted properly, he was handed a time penalty as his car was released in an unsafe manner and ended up a lap down and out of contention before the team ultimately retired the car.

His and the Willliams’ teams’ search for a first point of 2024 continues.

Winner: Lando Norris

Lando Norris is in the form of his life, the Briton following up his first-career victory in Miami with a stunning drive to second, which included hunting down Verstappen in the closing stages to cross the line 0.725s behind his friend in Italy.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Second placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates on the

Norris got close, but he couldn't quite overhaul Verstappen for the win

This is Norris’ third consecutive podium in Imola and 17th of his career while second was his McLaren team’s best finish at the Italian circuit since Kimi Raikkonen took second in 2003.

Norris also won Driver of the Day for the third race on the bounce, having gone second-first-second in the last three, and sits fourth in the drivers’ standings, just six points behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.

READ MORE: Norris says he needed ‘one or two more laps’ after agonisingly missing out on Imola victory to Verstappen

Loser: Fernando Alonso

This was an uncharacteristically off-colour weekend for Fernando Alonso, who crashed his Aston Martin in FP3, and then ran off track into the gravel in qualifying to end up on the back row.

The Spanish double world champion started from the pit lane, after changing a suite of things on the set-up of the car so they could essentially use the Grand Prix as an extended test session.

They tried the soft at the start and were hoping for a Safety Car to change things up – but nothing happened ahead of them and all but one car finished, meaning the Spaniard failed to score for the first time this year.

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Alonso’s brakes catch fire after pit stop

Winner: Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc is finding a groove right now, even if he is still searching for a first win of the 2024 campaign.

The Monegasque gave Ferrari their first podium at Imola since Michael Schumacher won at the venue in 2006 – and Leclerc's P3 was his fourth rostrum of the season and second in a row.

READ MORE: Leclerc pleased with Imola podium as he says ‘it’s looking good’ for Ferrari in remainder of season

Leclerc continues his run of finishing every race so far this year inside the top-four – and it is that consistency that has moved him into second in the drivers’ championship, six points clear of Perez.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Third placed Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari celebrates on the podium

Leclerc bagged a podium on home soil for his team

Loser: Sergio Perez

It’s been a pretty consistent season for Perez so far, but the Emilia Romagna GP weekend was one to forget for the Mexican.

The Red Bull driver was on the back foot after he crashed in FP3 – and then he failed to make Q3, leaving him 10 places behind team mate Verstappen on the grid in 11th.

He then lost a lot of ground in his fightback when he went off-track into the gravel when he was playing around with the balance to try and protect the rear axle. The Mexican reckoned he picked up some damage that hampered his performance – and the best he could recover to was eighth.

FACTS AND STATS: First Ferrari podium in Imola since Schumacher in 2006 sends the Tifosi wild

Winner: Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda was one of the star-performers in Imola this weekend, the Japanese driver looking quick in practice, qualifying and the race.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 runs

A trip through the gravel nearly proved costly for Perez during the Grand Prix

A bad start saw the RB driver lose two spots from a season’s best seventh on the grid – and in a bid to protect his position, the team pitted him early to leave him with a monster final stint on the hard.

Tsunoda kept his cool and managed his pace impressively to hold on for the final point of the day. That was his fourth points finish in the last five Grands Prix.

Losers: Alpine

Alpine do seem to be getting better from one weekend to the next, but they simply lacked the pace to compete for points in Imola.

READ MORE: Vettel pays tribute to Senna and Ratzenberger with emotional Imola demo run

They tried something different with an alternative strategy for Pierre Gasly, starting the Frenchman on the soft, but the race didn’t unfold in a way that rewarded that risky starting tyre choice.

Very early on, they started receiving blue flags, which naturally stunted progress. As a result, they couldn’t build on their maiden point of the season, scored last time out in Miami.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: 15th placed Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 walks in parc ferme during

Alpine lacked the pace to fight for points in Italy

Winners: Mercedes

Eight-time world champions Mercedes aspire to greater things than sixth and seventh plus the fastest lap of the race – but there were reasons to be encouraged by their performance in Italy.

Lewis Hamilton was sixth for second-successive race, equalling his best result of the year – while with George Russell in seventh, it was the first time since Bahrain that the Silver Arrows had both cars inside the top seven.

The upgrade they brought to Italy seems to be helping (it is believed to have been worth around a tenth or a tenth-and-a-half) and the gap to the front of the field is closing – they just need to make bigger gains as currently, they are being out-developed by McLaren and Ferrari.

READ MORE: Piastri ‘excited for the future’ after McLaren’s performance in Imola as he rues impact of penalty

Losers: Kick Sauber

Kick Sauber’s search for a point continues as they failed to fight their way into the top-10 in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Hamilton goes round the outside to pass Perez for P7

Qualifying was another damp squib for them, with Valtteri Bottas finishing 16th in Q1 for the fourth time this season while Zhou Guanyu maintained his unwanted record of getting eliminated in Q1 in every race so far in 2024.

Sunday afternoon was slightly better, but neither driver ever troubled the points and that leaves them bottom of the constructors’ championship.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix as Verstappen wins in nail-biting finish

Winners: Haas

While Haas didn’t score points with either car in Imola - despite Nico Hulkenberg starting inside the top 10 – there is plenty to be encouraged by.

This was another different circuit where the car has looked like it is capable of fighting for points.

Hulkenberg finished 11th to continue his run of not finishing lower than that position since the opening race of season – while Kevin Magnussen delivered a strong comeback drive to finish 12th, his best result since the Dane scored a point in Australia.

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