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What the teams said – Race day in Imola

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: A general view as Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes

Red Bull

Verstappen won the Emilia-Romagna Grand prix from pole, but it wasn’t a serene, easy victory for the Dutchman. He built a 7.5 second lead after the only pit stop period in what looked a dominant display. But he couldn’t hold onto his tyres late on, which allowed Norris to close to within a second, Verstappen just managed to hold onto the win by the skin of his teeth. As for Perez, he started on the hards from P11 and ran a very long first stint which helped him jump up the order. But the two Mercedes cars were long gone, so eighth was the best he could do.

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

Max Verstappen, 1st

“It was a close race today. I didn’t expect that the car would have that kind of pace at the beginning, which was nice and we were strong on the medium tyres. When we swapped to the hard tyres, it was a bit trickier to drive and more of a struggle to bring it to the end as tyres fell out of the operating window and we had really low grip. During the last ten laps I was really trying to survive on the tyres and managed to keep Lando behind, but it required a lot of focus as we were on the limit with the penalty. However, we managed to work through and take the win; I was definitely counting down the laps until the end and it was a great feeling when we took the chequered flag! If you look at where we were at the beginning of the weekend, this was an extremely good result. There is a bit of work to do and things to analyse but we are looking forward to Monaco.”

Sergio Perez, 8th

“We knew it was going to be a hard day today as the whole weekend was compromised from qualifying. Imola is a difficult track to overtake on so this was the maximum we could do today, especially we were struggling with traffic in the beginning on my first stint and on the hard tyres we had no margin to play around with the balance. We knew that McLaren were the fastest but Max had one of the best weekends I’ve seen from him in awhile, so a lot of praise for that and this was a great result for us. We have a few things we need to analyse and certainly some work to do as we head into the next race, but I’m looking forward to Monaco and hopefully we will continue our strong season and get some good momentum back."

Christian Horner, Team Principal

"It was a race of two halves for us today. The first half was really strong and we built a good buffer, but the second half Lando started to catch us very quickly. Max couldn’t afford to put a millimetre wrong with track limits and the pressure of Lando behind, so a great job by Max. It’s very satisfying to win a race like that when you have been pushed so hard. After qualifying, we ran the reverse strategy for Checo and the result was probably the best we could’ve got in a straight race like we had with no safety cars. McLaren and Ferrari were very quick and it’s going to be a really tight fight with both teams, especially as the cars are converging which is what naturally happens when you have stable rules. Overall, it was a weekend to remember in Imola and the whole team is looking forward to going again next weekend in Monte Carlo."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

McLaren

Piastri’s race was a frustrating one – bottled up behind Sainz in the early stages, he lost too much time behind the Ferrari to get into the podium fight. Pitting early to undercut his rival, Piastri was clearly quick but ran out of tyres to chase down Leclerc for that P3 slot. As for Norris, second seemed assured when Verstappen drove off into the distance, the McLaren man turning his attention to defence with Leclerc closing in. But then his tyres came back to him and Norris was able to eat into the Dutchman’s lead, giving it everything to catch back up and falling agonisingly short at the flag.

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

Lando Norris, 2nd

“Another great weekend for the team. I fought hard right until the very last lap but we just lost out a little bit too much to Max in the beginning. One or two more laps and it would have been beautiful – but just wasn’t meant to be today.

“We’ve been competitive all weekend and I think we’re at the point where we’re able to fight Ferrari and Red Bull consistently. We must get used to that – the team is doing a very good job so it’s great that fighting at the front is now business-as-usual. We just need to keep focused on improving. It’s still a surprise to say it’s frustrating to not win, but after last weekend and the improvements we made, it’s what we should start to expect.”

Oscar Piastri, 4th

“P4, a good day and I think that’s the most we could have done. I just got stuck behind Sainz for the first stint but the team made a great strategy call and we managed to overtake by pitting. This weekend proves how far the team have come and we’re confident we can keep taking the fight to the front. However today, track position was so important, so I am happy with our work.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“A positive day at Imola and the first time in 2024 McLaren have emerged as the highest-scoring team. P4 for Oscar came from good strategy and good pace, allowing him to gain a place on a day when it was not easy to. P2 for Lando was a very strong result. It was a surprise to be in contention for the victory at the end of the race. It came about as a consequence of how sensitive the tyres were today. In the first stint, Max did a better job of managing the Medium and after the stops, Lando did a very good job of managing the Hard, resisting the temptation to overdo it when Leclerc was catching up. It paid off at the end with strong pace and being in the hunt for the victory.

“Everyone at McLaren has worked very hard to make these results possible, and they have my thanks for the upgrades that have arrived over the last few weeks, but also for the commitment, the hard work, and the quality of that work. We need to keep improving the car. If we can do that, we’re going to be in a good position for the future.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Second placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Ferrari

Starting on the second row, both Ferrari cars were duelling off the line before they settled into a rhythm. Sainz was holding Piastri at bay in the early stages but was undercut by the McLaren in the pit stops and thus had to settle for fifth. Leclerc briefly challenged Norris for P2 early in the second stint, but he ran over the chicane and that seemed to take some life out of his tyres. He still finished third though, in front of a very passionate Italian crowd.

Charles Leclerc, 3rd

"Today’s race went well and we got even closer to our rivals. If we had qualified higher up, we could have presented our fans with an even better result. After changing on to the Hard tyres I had great pace and managed to make up ground on Lando (Norris) and Max (Verstappen,) but in the end the McLaren was quicker than us, although not by much.

"Overall, there are plenty of positives to take away from this race: the upgrades worked as expected and we are more competitive. We must continue to work to close the gap, which although small, still separates us from the race winner.

"Obviously, we dedicate this result and our performance to the tifosi who are the best fans in the world and they always support us come what may. I’m sure we’ll soon be able to pay them back with a win."

Carlos Sainz, 5th

"I cannot be happy after what was a tough race for me. I need to review it with the team to understand why I’ve not been comfortable with the car both in qualifying and today pace-wise.

"We will regroup tomorrow to start preparing for Monaco and hopefully we can get a better result there. The fight at the top is starting to get tight and we need to continue pushing."

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal

"First of all I would like to thank all the tifosi as it was very special to see them under the podium after the race. They brought us a lot of energy this week. Overall, it was a good weekend beyond the performance on track. Today we brought home the best result we could, as it is very difficult to overtake here. When we were pushing we were able to close the gap, but we had to be careful about overheating the tyres and we did not have enough pace difference to overtake.

"Unfortunately, the outcome of the Grand Prix was very much connected to yesterday’s qualifying and we need to do a better job in the next races as we can now see that our competitiveness in the race itself has really improved. I think today’s race was also a very good advert for Formula 1 as we saw three teams in seven seconds after more than 60 laps, which means the gaps are less than one tenth per lap.

"We are definitely on the pace now and we can fight for the top spot, even if we still need to make a small step forward."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Mercedes

Hamilton made up a place off the line to run seventh, just behind his team mate. They dropped off the back of the top five early on, but always seemed to have the pace to keep the rest at bay. Hamilton ran wide through the gravel in one hairy moment, but the two seemed destined to hold station until Russell complained about his tyres late on. That led to a second pit stop which dropped him behind Hamilton, but he did at least pick up the bonus point for fastest lap.

Lewis Hamilton, 6th

"My race was generally good. I had one moment which cost me about five seconds, but my race pace was generally strong so I’m happy with how it went. I made a good start and that was important to get past Tsunoda. From there, I was able to extend my opening stint and that helped me make the one-stop strategy work.

"We’ve taken a small step forward this weekend and we have improved. Unfortunately, that is slightly masked by the step forward others such as McLaren and Ferrari have taken. We will keep pushing to bring more updates that can add performance. Until then, we will make sure we are scoring as many points as we can."

George Russell, 7th

"We had some concerns over the Hard tyre being able to go to the end so made a second pit stop. Of course that means I lost a position to Lewis, but we were able to score one extra point as a team. It was quite a lonely race for us. We’ve slightly closed the gap to Red Bull and extended our advantage over the midfield. However, McLaren and Ferrari have also found similar gains so we are aiming to bring more performance and bigger steps as soon as we can. We’re never going to be satisfied with P6 and P7, but this is where we are at the moment.

"Everyone is super motivated and it’s very inspiring to see. Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth are working so hard to bring improvements and it’s great to see. We’ve got to keep on pushing. This weekend we maximised the package we had, and we will continue to aim to do that moving forward."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"It’s not possible to see it in terms of the result, but we have taken a small step forward this weekend. Our closest competitors have also done so recently, but we have closed the gap to the front a little. We still have a lot of work to do and of course, we are all frustrated finishing P6 and P7. There is more to come though, and it is all about making incremental gains. These are what we need to keep delivering if we are to get ourselves in the fight with the three teams ahead of us.

"With George’s second stop, our wear forecasts showed that he may struggle to make it last to the end of the race on the Hard tyre. We had the opportunity to pit and get out ahead of Perez, and therefore opted to stop him. That also enabled us to go for the fastest lap point. It cost George a place to Lewis but ultimately the team was able to score an additional point."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"It’s clear we have made progress this weekend, but our nearest competitors are also pushing hard. The race today confirmed that we need to continue to make these gains to be in the fight with the top-three teams. We are continuing to work on that, with the factory flat out on development. We will look to continue to bring updates to subsequent races.

"Today, the Grand Prix didn't throw us any opportunities. There were no Virtual Safety Cars or Safety Cars, so as much as P6 and P7 is frustrating, it is what our pace deserved. We're not lacking any determination or effort to improve, and over the last few weeks it has been encouraging to see the efforts that every team member has put into the drive to get back to the front."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 runs onto the gravel during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Alonso started from the pit lane on the soft tyres, after making some overnight suspension changes. He pitted early to get rid of the C5 rubber but then witnessed his brakes catching fire as he returned to the track. He came back in twice more on a torrid day which he had admitted was more about learning than racing, and did try for fastest lap late on to deny Mercedes the bonus point - but wasn't able to beat Russell's time. As for Stroll, he was racing and racing hard. He managed to go long on his mediums, and so had fresh tyres late on with which to catch and pass some rivals. He climbed into the points and came home a well deserved ninth from P13 on the grid.

Fernando Alonso, 19th

“It was a difficult day and weekend in general for us. We started from the pit lane and changed a few things on the setup of the car. It meant that we could gather a lot of data which we need to analyse over the next couple of days. We opted for the Soft tyres at the start of the race and we were hoping for a Safety Car to change things up. When nothing happened ahead of us, we looked to try a few different compounds out and essentially used it as a bit of a test session. We will need to regroup and put ourselves in the best position in Monaco.”

Lance Stroll, 9th

“It’s good to come away from Imola with a couple of points. We elected to extend our first stint on the Medium compounds hoping for a Safety Car, but that never came and so we had to make up positions on track. That early tyre management meant I had the advantage of newer Hards towards of the end of the race, giving me the pace to pass Nico [Hülkenberg] and Yuki [Tsunoda] which was fun. This weekend has been tough though. We know we’re not as competitive as we want to be, and we’ll have to push hard to find the performance we’re missing.”

Mike Krack, Team Principal

“We leave Imola with two important points following a strong drive by Lance and excellent team strategy. Lance made his one-stop race work with a long first stint, while Fernando’s early pit stop on lap eight helped draw several cars in for early stops. Lance was then able to make strong overtakes into Turn 1 on Hülkenberg and Tsunoda to secure P9. It was not easy to overtake, so it was great to watch Lance making those moves. It was always going to be difficult for Fernando to progress to the points after the difficult Qualifying, but he played the team game perfectly. The Imola weekend showed that we are still not competitive enough. Our focus is on extracting the full potential of the AMR24 for the races to come, starting next week in Monaco.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes follows Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

RB

Tsunoda dropped behind Hulkenberg at the start and was losing time stuck behind the Haas. The team made the decision to bring him in early and it paid dividends as he was able to bang in a very hot out-lap to undercut the Haas. That was the move that enabled him to score a point on a day some of the big teams recovered back to the points. As for Ricciardo, he looked in a battle with Perez for the final point on offer, but couldn’t extract enough pace late on and dropped behind Magnussen.

Daniel Ricciardo, 13th

“I don’t think anything went wrong with the start procedure, I felt like I did everything right, but unfortunately, losing that starting place did cost us the points in the race. We’ll figure it out as a team, just because there’s a bit of a lack of consistency there and we immediately dropped out of the points. Then during the race we were in a train of cars, and being there with the dirty air, it’s a weakness at the moment for us. We’ll keep looking at it. I think with the clean air our pace was okay and I was doing decent times, but as soon as we got in some traffic we felt like we struggled more. That midfield we’re in it’s all about small details. We work hard for the qualifying position, so it’s important to be able to consolidate it at the start of the race. I think that if both Yuki and I stayed in front of Nico (Hulkenberg) at the start, we could’ve managed to stay there for the whole race, get on a little bit better with the pack and our race would have looked different. Let's reset now, it’s been a couple of years now that I’m missing Monaco, so I’m looking ahead and I’m excited to go back there next week.”

Yuki Tsunoda, 10th

“At the end of the day, I’m happy I scored a point in front of our home crowd and people who came from the factory. I think our start slightly compromised our race because we lost a couple of positions to Nico (Hulkenberg). He was fast on the straights, so we didn’t want to end up behind him which is why we pitted before him and earlier than planned. It was the crucial moment of the race, and I think we managed the strategy well and responded correctly to Nico. It meant we had to go long in our second stint and managing the hard tyre for the last 15 laps was challenging, but well done to the team for managing, that’s positive. The start is the main topic that we need to improve on. We’re working hard to take another step forward and we’ll focus on extracting the maximum out of our package. Monaco is up next and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been working hard and performing well, and I don’t have a doubt that we will maximise our performance.”

Jody Egginton, Technical Director

“It’s nice to come away with a point from Yuki but there’s also a slight feeling of frustration as we had the pace to possibly be further up the road at the end of the race. However, we lost places with both cars off the start and that pushed us into making an earlier-than-planned stop to try and recover, meaning we had to go longer than we wanted on the second set of tyres. That opened up the opportunity for Stroll to go long with less traffic and he took good advantage of this. On the positive side, the car and recent updates worked well here and it’s been a fantastic effort from everyone at the factory supplying new parts, and it was good to see so many of them here with us, celebrating in the grandstands after all their hard work.”

Laurent Mekies, Team Principal

“With just 15 kilometres separating our Faenza factory from the Imola circuit, this was always going to be a special event for us; our first home race under the Visa Cash App RB banner. It was great to have so many employees from the factory here at the track, creating a sort of “Blue Army” in a special VCARB grandstand and rotating our VIP passes to get as many of them as possible into the paddock. This was our way of thanking everyone in Faenza, Bicester and at Honda for their hard work, which has been giving us good results, to put us once again at the top of the midfield here in Imola. Even if today’s race leaves us a little bit disappointed, as a better start from both Yuki and Daniel would have probably created a better scenario for us, a point is a point and there are many positives to take away from the weekend. Our qualifying performance proves that the upgrades we implemented in Miami are definitely bringing us performance to go on fighting for sixth position in the Championship. And now we carry that momentum forward to face the unique challenge of Monaco. Daniel has been on the podium there no fewer than four times, including a win, and Yuki is currently in great form, so we will be pushing for another strong performance from the whole team.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: 10th placed Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB waves to the crowd in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Haas

Both Haas drivers made a great start, each making up two places. Hulkenberg was eighth but lost out to Tsunoda in the pit stop periods after the RB driver managed to undercut him. That dropped him to a de factor ninth, but he was then powerless to hold a quicker Red Bull and Aston Martin at bay, dropping to 11th at the flag. As for Magnussen, he had a strong race after making a very long first stint work for him. He made his way forward on fresh tyres late on, coming home just behind his team mate.

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

Nico Hulkenberg, 11th

“We got undercut by Yuki, so that was one position lost, and Checo in his Red Bull was coming through and there’s no holding him back on much fresher tyres on a different strategy. Frankly, I don’t think we had quite enough pace, it feels like we were missing a little bit and the strategy to pit early made life quite hard. It was a long final stint and it was a struggle to find a good harmony and rhythm. I think it’s confirmed now that we can compete in the midfield and that’s great compared to last year. However, you get used to these nice things and you always want more, and I want to be fighting for points so we need to keep pushing.”

Kevin Magnussen, 12th

“I think we had a decent day. We didn’t get anything for free in terms of cars ahead having problems, so P12 for us meant we really earned that by overtaking people on track and fighting for it. It felt like a good race, but we just started too far back. We showed today that the pace was there, and we were gaining on our competition in the midfield, but our starting position that meant we didn’t score points today.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“Again, slightly mixed feelings. I think Kevin drove a really great race, a good, clean race, especially after Miami, and I think he delivered. I think he would’ve had a decent chance of scoring points in P10 if it wasn’t for the timing of his pit stop. The pit stop itself wasn’t great but we just took too much risk delaying a stop as late as that, so that’s frustrating. The positive thing here is Kevin drove very well, he deserved to score points.

“It was a bit tricky for Nico as he was fighting against two RB’s which is our main competitor. He drove a good race but pitting that early in terms of hard tyre degradation wasn’t easy, so in hindsight we probably would’ve done something different there. All in all, it’s very positive that we’ve done seven races and at every single race we’re there or there abouts on the edge of scoring points, but there is no margin. I’m encouraged by this development and in Monaco we’re looking forward to having another crack at it.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Haas F1 blows kisses to the crowd on the drivers parade prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alpine

Gasly gambled on a soft tyre start, pitted early for the hards but found degradation higher than expected. As such, he wound up two-stopping and came home down the field. Ocon had some contact on the first lap, banging wheels with Stroll. He was able to continue, but on a day where there was only one retirement, just didn’t have the pace to climb nearer the points.

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

Esteban Ocon, 14th

“It was a difficult race today and, in the end, a tricky weekend overall. Ultimately, we lacked the pace to compete, and we did not have the speed to attack or defend, which limited our options in the race. We managed to hold position at the start but struggled to keep Lance [Stroll] behind in the beginning of the opening stint. Once he passed us, he pulled away and we could not maintain ground to the others. We tried to extend our first stint to benefit from any teams making a late pit-stop, but that did not happen. We were not in the fight this weekend, but we keep going and we go again next week in Monaco. I have great memories from last year, so we go there with a positive frame of mind.”

Pierre Gasly, 16th

“Unfortunately, we did not get it quite right today. We were not quick enough to compete higher up the grid and our intended strategy was too far away to pay off given how the race unfolded. In general, though, it felt like the car was less competitive than yesterday so we need to review as a team what we could have done better. Apart from that, the car felt more consistent at this track throughout the weekend so we need to make sure that we get the factors that we can control right. I’m looking forward to Monaco now, we have lots to analyse in the next couple of days to make sure we come prepared to the streets of Monte Carlo.”

Bruno Famin, Team Principal

“It was a difficult race for the team in Imola today. We lacked pace and the alternative strategy we attempted with Pierre did not work as there were no incidents on track. The leaders of the race were very fast today and we were caught early on with blue flags, which cost us additional time. We need to focus on our own performance and analyse the data to understand our race pace deficit. We can only control the areas we have in our hands. Next week we return to the legendary Monaco. It’s a race with fond memories for the team from last year and we look forward to racing there again with a resilient and motivated attitude aiming for a good result.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

Kick Sauber split strategies off the line, with Zhou starting on the hards and Bottas the mediums. The Finn was stuck in a train of cars early on so pitted sooner than planned, having to make his hard C3 tyre last an incredible 54 laps in the end. As for Zhou, his strategy worked slightly better and he got involved in some wheel to wheel battles, running out of laps to pick off Ocon ahead.

Valtteri Bottas, 18th

“It’s been a pretty quiet afternoon on my end. We tried something different with my strategy, in contrast to Zhou’s, and stopped early. It was good to give it a try, as it worked okay for most of the race, although the second stint lasted a bit too long, and my tyres eventually dropped off over the last ten laps. It was always going to be slightly difficult to make progress on such a narrow track, especially as our starting position wasn’t ideal. In terms of upgrades, we did make a small step here, and we could have realised some more of our potential in qualifying had it not been for yesterday’s conditions, but of course we need to further improve to properly get in the mix for points, as we have seen with our main competitors. The team back home is putting a lot of effort into delivering the next set of new parts, which should be implemented over the next few races. We will also have something more track-specific for Monaco – that, of course, is a race of its own, where it’s all about qualifying – it’ll be important to get that right, to have a decent chance at points in the Principality.”

Zhou Guanyu, 15th

“Today’s race was quite uneventful in the beginning but picked up some action later on. We were hoping for a safety car to really benefit from our strategy – and while that didn’t happen, we still made it work, managed our tyres well, and gained positions. Unfortunately, most cars were on a similar one-stop strategy on a track where it’s hard to overtake and, without any major incidents, we didn’t get close to the points, especially since we still need to extract a bit more in terms of pace and performance. Next up is Monaco, and sometimes packages suddenly work better on a completely different track. The team keeps pushing, and we’ll give it our all to be up there fighting for points in the upcoming races.”

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative

“We knew that, starting from P16 and P17, we needed some special circumstances playing in our favour to be in the fight for points. However, what we saw today was a clean race, without any full or virtual safety car; we tried a different strategy for both cars but remained in a DRS train for most of the race. We had decent pace on both compounds, especially compared with our direct competitors, but it was not enough to gain further positions. Zhou drove an aggressive race, starting on the hard tyres. Unfortunately, he had a moment with Esteban [Ocon] where he was pushed off the track and therefore lost the position. With Valtteri, we tried to extend the second stint, on the hard compound, and therefore pitted him early – unfortunately, the end of the race was difficult for him in terms of traction. The field is very tight, and we have seen that qualifying is the real race for us: any position we can gain on the starting grid can allow us to have a different Sunday. The target for the team is to find more pace in the car over the next few races, starting in Monaco. While today was the maximum we could have done, our analysis is that we need to improve – as quickly as possible.”

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by James Sutton - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Williams

It was a race to forget for Albon out there. He pitted early for some hards, but they weren’t fitted properly and he had to trawl round really slowly, coming back in to the pits. That unsafe release earned him a ten-second time penalty, and also meant he lost the only set of hard tyres he had so had to swap to some used mediums. Two laps down, he eventually retired. Sargeant was running strongly after going for a long first stint, but ran out of gas late on and came home 17th.

Alex Albon, DNF

"After the issues we faced with the wheel, we used the race as a bit of a test session to experiment with the brakes on long runs, playing around a bit in these conditions. I didn’t feel the issue coming out of the pits, it was only when I took the pit limiter off and felt the vibration that I could tell something was wrong. I knew the tyre wasn’t going to fall off as it was only going to a certain point and would stop so it was still safe, but I understand why I got the penalty.

"Whilst today is a little painful, it’s not all doom and gloom. We have a plan, and the midfield isn’t scoring a tremendous number of points, so we’re not falling away too much and can still catch up. At this point last year, we only had one point so were in a similar position. Whilst we don’t have as big of an upgrade coming and our focus is on taking the weight out of the car, we’ll still look to bring minor upgrades. We’ll take the learnings we can and move our focus to Monaco."

Logan Sargeant, 17th

"Today was a bit of a struggle. There’s very little overtaking here, you get stuck in DRS trains, there’s lots of dirty air which makes it hard to keep the tyres in a good place, and I had a lot of blue flags in the second stint, so it can kind of stack up. I think when you look at the windows we had in clean air, the performance was not bad relative to the people around us, so that was a positive. I don’t have too much to say about the race except I tried to keep my nose clean and get in the laps."

Sven Smeets, Sporting Director

"Not the race result we wanted today. Alex’s race was over after a problem in his first pitstop with the right front wheel. After he served the penalty, we used the rest of his race as a learning for next year and decided to retire him before the end of the race.

"Logan’s stint on the Hard tyre was difficult as he was in a DRS train most of the time. After receiving a lot of blue flags, he found some pace at the end of the race in clean air, and managed to overtake Bottas. We will shift our focus immediately to Monaco now and on taking weight out of the car in the upcoming races."

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes makes a pitstop during the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 19, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Pirelli

Mario Isola, Motorsport Director

“A very close race, for the most part without any particularly exciting moments, but it livened up towards the end as Norris closed on Verstappen. On an old style track like Imola, overtaking has always been difficult and this year was no exception. A strategy based on a single stop was, as predicted, the quickest and was adopted by the majority, with the first stint run on the Medium and the second with the Hard. Both compounds worked quite well despite the fact that, especially at the front of the field, the drivers pushed practically all race long, with track temperatures oscillating between 43 and 50 °C, even if there were a few clouds overhead.

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

"The predicted pit stop window proved to be accurate: in fact, those who stopped very early then found themselves struggling towards the end. Actually, degradation was not very high because there were few signs of graining.

"Finally, I must congratulate the wonderful crowd at Imola who were as passionate as ever, once again putting on a great show in the grandstands which I’m sure the drivers and teams enjoyed.”

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