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Verstappen holds off thrilling late charge from Norris to win Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen has returned to winning ways after missing out in Miami by taking victory in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, with the Dutchman holding off an exciting late charge from Lando Norris.

After Verstappen built up a solid lead in the early stages following a good launch from pole position, the Red Bull star enjoyed a mostly serene drive around the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, until Norris's McLaren began to close the gap from P2 as the race reached its latter stages.

A thrilling end to the event ensued as Norris continued to cut into Verstappen’s advantage, but a snap of oversteer seemed to take further life out of the McLaren driver’s ageing tyres, allowing the Red Bull to hold onto P1 by just 0.725s as the chequered flag was waved.

Despite looking to be on Norris’s tail in the fight for P2 earlier in the event, Charles Leclerc had to settle for the final podium position of third in front of Ferrari’s home fans, while Oscar Piastri claimed P4 in a solid drive for McLaren.

Emilia-Romagna 2024

Race results

PositionTeam NameTimePoints
1VER1:25:25.25225
2NOR+0.725s18
3LEC+7.916s15
4PIA+14.132s12
5SAI+22.325s10
View Full Results

Carlos Sainz added to Ferrari’s points tally by claiming fifth place, ahead of Lewis Hamilton in a lonely sixth for Mercedes followed by his team mate George Russell in seventh, who had made a surprise late pit stop for medium tyres allowing him to claim the extra point for fastest lap.

Sergio Perez salvaged P8 for Red Bull after a difficult qualifying saw him start the race in P11, with Lance Stroll taking Aston Martin’s only points in ninth. Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top-10 after a racy drive in the RB.

The Haas pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen followed in 11th and 12th respectively, despite the former running in the top 10 earlier on and the latter engaging in a few battles to work his way through the field.

RB’s Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line in P13, dropping back from P9 on the grid, with the lead Alpine of Esteban Ocon following in P14 ahead of Kick Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu in P15.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track during the

Leclerc took the final podium position of third in Imola

Pierre Gasly ended the day in 16th place for Alpine, having been one of just two drivers to start the race on the soft tyre. Williams’ Logan Sargeant was just behind in 17th, while Valtteri Bottas rounded out the finishers in 18th place.

Fernando Alonso had spent much of the afternoon running near the rear of the pack in what has been a challenging weekend for the Spaniard. He retired his Aston Martin in the latter stages, classifying him in P19.

The only other retiree was Alex Albon, who was forced to retire his Williams earlier in the Grand Prix.

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

Verstappen has extended his lead in the drivers' championship following his victory in Imola

AS IT HAPPENED

Despite a difficult day in the car on Friday, Verstappen bounced back in Saturday’s qualifying to claim his eighth consecutive pole position, putting him just ahead of the McLaren pair of Piastri and Norris.

However, a three-place grid drop was handed to Piastri after the session as the Australian was found to have impeded the Haas of Magnussen during Q1, pushing him down to P5 on the grid. This in turn promoted Norris to the front row, while the Ferrari duo also moved up to the second.

Alonso, meanwhile, was set to start from the pit lane due to late set-up changes being made to the suspension on his Aston Martin, compounding a difficult weekend so far for the Spaniard after he originally qualified down in 19th place.

As the cars assembled on the grid at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, it was confirmed that the majority of the field would be starting on the medium tyres, while Alonso and Gasly had bolted on the softs and Perez, Sargeant and Zhou were all running the hard compound for an expected one-stop encounter.

Verstappen and Norris made equally solid launches when the lights went out for the 63-lap event, but it was polesitter Verstappen who then drew clear. While Norris potentially found himself at risk from the Ferraris, the top six ultimately held position on a clean first lap.

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Verstappen holds the lead ahead of Norris on the race start at Imola

Further back some big names were making moves, with Hamilton gaining a position to go into P7 while Perez had also overtaken Ricciardo to slot into P10, marking a good start for the Mexican on the hard tyres.

As the race settled down, Verstappen’s lead had increased to over a second from Norris by Lap 4 – despite the Briton trying to stay within reach – while Leclerc was also a further second behind the McLaren, with Sainz and Piastri close on his tail.

Elsewhere, with the Mercedes pair of Russell and Hamilton in a lonely P6 and P7, a DRS train had started to form behind Hulkenberg in P8 following an impressive getaway from P10 on the grid for the Haas driver.

As Lap 8 ticked down, Piastri was struggling to find a way past Sainz despite being within half a second of the Ferrari. The Spaniard was not being helped by team mate Leclerc, who had proceeded to build a gap rather than drop back to give Sainz DRS.

Two tours later and there was trouble for Albon, who looked to be moving slowly after emerging from the pits following a stop for hard tyres. “I've got a problem, tyre isn't on properly,” the Thai driver reported as he tried to trundle back to the pit lane.

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Albon forced to pit again because of loose wheel

The Williams did indeed make it back to the pits, where he was given a set of mediums and sent back out on track. Other drivers, meanwhile, were starting to make their pit stops, with Alonso and Ricciardo amongst those to have stopped for fresh rubber.

There was further drama for the former when he spotted that his front brakes were on fire as he left the pit lane to emerge back out near the rear of the pack. Elsewhere, Tsunoda had been stuck behind Hulkenberg for some time, prompting RB to bring the Japanese driver in for a stop.

While Hulkenberg then pitted himself one lap later, Tsunoda had done enough to undercut the Haas, meaning that he stayed ahead in P14 when Hulkenberg returned to the track. Up ahead, Verstappen was now leading by five seconds from Norris as the race reached Lap 16.

The other McLaren of Piastri was still struggling to find a way past Sainz in the continued battle for P5. In off-track news, it was confirmed that the stewards were investigating Albon for an unsafe release following his earlier pit-lane incident.

Replays showed that Perez had experienced a bit of a moment on Lap 18, with the Mexican losing several seconds as he ran wide and took a trip through the gravel. This did not prevent him from holding onto P8, though it did help ninth-placed Stroll to close the gap somewhat.

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

Perez went long on his opening stint on the hard tyre

Verstappen was reporting that his front left tyre was “not good” by Lap 21, while Russell made a stop for the hard compound one lap later. A flurry of action followed in the pit lane as Norris soon pitted from second place, putting the McLaren back out on track in P7 behind Perez.

Ferrari, meanwhile, looked to be trying the overcut given that Norris had found himself in traffic, though the Briton had already managed to clear Perez within a matter of laps. Piastri had also stopped before sweeping past Stroll for P7 after returning to the track, with the Australian showing strong pace.

Race leader Verstappen soon made his stop, while the Scuderia brought Leclerc in one lap later, leaving Sainz and Hamilton out front as both had not yet pitted. Leclerc and Piastri quickly picked off Perez, while Sainz and Hamilton each made their pit stops on Lap 28.

Sainz slotted into sixth behind Piastri and Perez, something that would surely please the McLaren team as the Ferrari now had to find a way past the Red Bull. Further back, Tsunoda pulled off an impressive overtake on Sargeant, with the Williams yet to make a pit stop.

As the race headed towards its halfway point, Verstappen held the lead from Norris, Leclerc and Piastri, while Sainz had got ahead of Perez – still going long on his first stint – for fifth place. The Mexican might be known for his ‘tyre whisperer’ qualities, but his set of hards looked to be fading.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track

Tsunoda seemed determined to score points for RB in front of their local crowd

Tsunoda’s racy afternoon continued as he clinched P11 from Zhou, meaning that the RB driver was in prime position for potentially scoring points given that the likes of Perez ahead still had to make a pit stop.

While the gaps amongst the front-runners looked steady, Norris was concerned about his pace. “Why am I so much slower than the guys behind?” the McLaren driver asked his engineer on Lap 35, to which he was told that others were using their tyres more.

Elsewhere Hamilton was on the tail of Perez in the battle for seventh place. With the two on different strategies, the Mexican did not make things too difficult for Hamilton as the seven-time champion swept past through Tamburello.

It was on Lap 38 that Perez finally made his pit stop, with the Red Bull mechanics fitting a set of medium tyres onto his RB20, while Stroll and Magnussen also pitted. Perez emerged back on track in P11, around two seconds behind Ricciardo in the final points-paying position of P10.

Within a couple of laps, Perez utilised DRS to pass Ricciardo, with the latter on much older tyres. He followed this by picking off Hulkenberg for P9, with Tsunoda next in his sights in P8. Meanwhile Magnussen was engaged in a fierce scrap with Zhou for 16th place as the Kick Sauber managed to stay ahead.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL38 Mercedes leads

Leclerc tried to chase down Norris for P2

Back at the front, the battle for second place was heating up. Leclerc had closed the gap to Norris to just under a second, prompting the McLaren team to give their driver a hurry-up. Meanwhile Leclerc was being told, “You are the fastest car on track”.

Perez had sealed P8 by Lap 43 after overtaking Tsunoda. Seventh place looked to be a challenge, however, with Hamilton 30 seconds up the road. In the other Red Bull, Verstappen was serenely leading by six seconds from Norris.

Other duels were playing out across the field. Stroll was chasing down Hulkenberg for P10 in what looked to be Aston Martin’s only chance of scoring a point, as Alonso’s miserable weekend continued down in P19.

Magnussen, meanwhile, had not let up in his pursuit of Zhou with 15 laps to go. After a lengthy scrap, the Haas made a neat move through Tamburello to claim P15. The other Kick Sauber of Bottas also looked to be in trouble in 13th, with Ocon close behind in the Alpine.

In the all-important scrap for points, Stroll had overtaken Hulkenberg and was now chasing down Tsunoda for P9, a place he soon managed to take. Ocon, meanwhile, looked to have lost ground, allowing Magnussen to surge forwards into P14.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault leads Kevin

Magnussen engaged in several battles – including with the Alpines – as he worked his way forwards from P18 on the grid

Further ahead, Norris seemed to have dropped Leclerc, with the result being that the McLaren had managed to close the gap slightly to Verstappen. By Lap 52 it had come down to four seconds as Verstappen’s tyres looked to be suffering.

There was some late action in the pit lane as Russell stopped for medium rubber. The Mercedes emerged back on track in P7, 22 seconds behind team mate Hamilton, while Norris was continuing to eat into Verstappen’s lead.

With seven laps to go, Norris had brought the gap down to two seconds. Verstappen, meanwhile, voiced his annoyance at Tsunoda after lapping the RB, who did not seem to get out of the way fast enough when the blue flags were shown.

Albon became the first retiree of the day when the Williams team asked him to bring the car home, but the action was not letting up back on track. Verstappen’s advantage over Norris had dropped to 1.5s with just a few laps remaining.

A heart-stopping moment of oversteer seemed to slightly throw off Norris’s charge, with the gap remaining steady as the final laps ticked down and the Briton continued to struggle for grip on his ageing tyres.

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Verstappen crosses the line just ahead of Norris to take victory at Imola

Despite refusing to give up – and enduring another scare when he nearly headed into the gravel – Norris was unable to close down any further and Verstappen crossed the line to take victory, just 0.725s ahead of the McLaren.

“Had to work hard for that,” the Dutchman conceded over team radio after the chequered flag, while a disappointed Norris rued his “hard luck”. Behind them, Leclerc claimed the final podium position of third, with Piastri in fourth ahead of Sainz in fifth.

The Mercedes pair of Hamilton and Russell followed in a relatively lonely sixth and seventh, while Perez took eighth place in the Red Bull. Stroll and Tsunoda rounded out the top 10, taking valuable points for their respective Aston Martin and RB teams.

Hulkenberg and Magnussen slotted into P11 and P12 for Haas, with Ricciardo failing to make ground from P13 ahead of Ocon in P14.

Zhou ended the day in 15th place as Kick Sauber continue to look for their first points of the season, while Gasly crossed the line in 16th.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

Russell claimed the additional point for fastest lap following a late pit stop

Sargeant was the sole Williams to finish the race in P17, with Bottas following in P18. Alonso, meanwhile, retired his Aston Martin in the latter stages after a challenging weekend in Imola for the Spaniard.

He was classified in P19. Albon, meanwhile, had retired on Lap 51 of the event, with Williams yet to get off the mark for points in 2024.

The additional point for fastest lap went to Russell, who benefitted from the fresh tyres from his late pit stop to go quickest of all.

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

Verstappen's victory marked his fifth of the 2024 season

Key quote

“I think the whole race I had to push flat out to try and make a gap initially," said Verstappen. "I think on the medium tyres we were quite strong, on the hards tyres it was just a bit more difficult to manage, especially in the last 10, 15 laps. I had no grip anymore, I was really sliding a lot.

"I saw Lando closing in, so the last 10 laps I was just flat out. It’s very difficult when the tyres are not working anymore and you have to go flat-out. I couldn't afford to make too many mistakes. Luckily we didn’t, and super happy of course to win here today.”

What’s next

The next stop on the 2024 F1 calendar will be Monte Carlo, with the Monaco Grand Prix following swiftly on the weekend of May 24-26. Head to the RACE HUB to find out how you can follow the action.

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