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POWER RANKINGS: Who was incredible at Imola?

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Max Verstappen returned to winning ways at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix after a gutsy weekend performance – but the Dutchman faced some stiff competition from Lando Norris, while drivers lower down the order shone too. Here’s who impressed our judges at Imola.

How it works

  • Our five-judge panel assess each driver after every Grand Prix and score them out of 10 according to their performance across the weekend – taking machinery out of the equation

  • Our experts’ scores are then averaged out to produce a race score – with those scores then tallied up across the season on our overall Power Rankings Leaderboard (at the bottom of the page)

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Verstappen and Red Bull appeared out of sorts when the Imola weekend got under way, ending Friday’s running “severely off pace” via several off-track excursions. But driver and team got their heads together after that, with the Dutchman pulling off a brilliant lap to beat the McLarens and Ferraris to pole and converting it into the win on race day – keeping his cool as Lando Norris closed in late on.

PALMER: It’s approaching crunch time for Red Bull – is Perez doing enough to keep his seat, or should they look elsewhere?

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As touched on above, Norris pushed Verstappen all the way in the closing stages of the race as tyre degradation and confidence shifted in the Briton’s favour. Despite his best efforts, the Miami Grand Prix winner could not quite double up – crossing the line less than a second behind the winning Red Bull – but P2 nonetheless marked another excellent result.

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

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It was another case of ‘what might have been’ for Oscar Piastri at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. After being scuppered by the Safety Car in Miami, this time the Australian was demoted from second to fifth on the grid for an impeding incident with Kevin Magnussen in qualifying, all but ending his chances of winning. But he battled on and added to McLaren’s tally with a strong P4 between the Ferraris.

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

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Charles Leclerc could not quite manage a dream home win for Ferrari on the team’s home soil, but he still gave the tifosi lining the track something to cheer about with a run to third. It not only marked his fourth podium in seven races so far this season, with momentum building on his side of the garage, but also the Scuderia’s first at Imola since Michael Schumacher’s triumph back in 2006.

READ MORE: Vasseur says Ferrari and McLaren can ‘come back at Red Bull’ as he makes ‘gamechanger’ title race forecast

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Yuki Tsunoda was one of the stars of the weekend as the RB team also competed in front of a home crowd for the first time this season. A fine third in Friday practice was followed up by another Q3 appearance and seventh on the grid, which was turned into 10th on race day – and another valuable point – to strengthen the Faenza’s team’s grip on P6 in the constructors’ standings.

READ MORE: Tsunoda ‘happy’ with point on RB’s home soil as team set to review costly race start issues

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Nico Hulkenberg also impressed in qualifying, reaching the top 10 shootout for the third weekend in a row and the fourth time in 2024. While he slipped out of the points-scoring positions in the Grand Prix as Haas’s pace faded slightly in race trim, it was a battling display from the German, who continues to lead the team’s charge and underline why Kick Sauber (soon-to-be Audi) have signed him for 2025 and beyond.

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

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After some early promise in Friday practice, Mercedes found themselves outside the front-running battle involving Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari when things got serious in qualifying and the race. In the intra-team battle, it was George Russell who had the edge over Lewis Hamilton all weekend, though a late pit stop for fresh tyres – and a successful fastest lap attempt – dropped the younger Briton behind.

READ MORE: Russell won’t ‘sulk’ over losing position to Hamilton in Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix after ‘lonely race’ for Mercedes

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Esteban Ocon has regularly featured inside our Power Rankings top 10 scores this season, appearing to extract everything he possibly can from a below-par Alpine package. Following his spirited drive to the squad’s first point of the campaign in Miami, there was no such reward this time out, but he was the faster of the Alpine drivers once more and remains ready to pounce on any dramas ahead.

HINCH'S HEROES: Who caught IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe’s eye in Imola?

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Carlos Sainz started 2024 in fine form, but it has been a slightly more challenging sequence of events for the Spaniard since China, with team mate Leclerc finishing ahead in both Sprints and all three races. At Imola, Sainz was second-best from the outset, admitting that he “struggled all weekend” while pointing to “a couple of issues” that need to be addressed for Monaco.

READ MORE: Sainz hoping to solve issues identified in Imola amid P5 result after ‘struggling all weekend’

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As mentioned earlier, the Mercedes cars were effectively in a battle of their own in the race, behind the leading Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari drivers but ahead of the chasing midfield pack. Hamilton took the chequered flag in sixth, just over 10 seconds ahead of Russell after his team mate’s late pit stop, with both keeping the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez at bay.

Missing out

Two drivers close to the top 10 cut were Daniel Ricciardo, who joined team mate Tsunoda in Q3 in qualifying before coming home 13th on race day, and Lance Stroll, who bagged a couple of points for Aston Martin on a messy weekend for the sister machine of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso.

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