F1 Italian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen clinches nail-Biting Imola victory, Lando Norris pushes to the final second

Max Verstappen emerged victorious from a thrilling Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday, narrowly holding off a late surge by McLaren’s Lando Norris. The Red Bull driver crossed the finish line a mere 0.725 seconds ahead of Norris, who had tasted victory against Verstappen in the previous race in Miami.

The win marks Verstappen’s fifth in seven races this season and the 59th of his career, solidifying his dominance in the championship. It also marks his third consecutive win at the historic Imola circuit.

“I had no grip anymore. I was sliding a lot,” said a relieved Verstappen, who admitted to feeling the pressure in the closing laps. “The last 10 laps were flat out. It’s 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.”

Norris, who started strong and closed the gap dramatically in the final laps, was left ruing what could have been. “It hurts me to say, but one or two more laps I think I would have had him,” lamented the Briton. “We are at a point now where we can say we are in the position with Ferrari and Red Bull. We have to get used to it. We are fighting for first and second now.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc secured the final podium position, finishing 7.916 seconds behind Verstappen. The result marks his fourth podium finish this season, providing a much-needed boost ahead of his home race in Monaco next weekend.

Verstappen’s triumph extends his lead in the driver’s championship to a commanding 48 points. Leclerc now sits in second place with 113 points, ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, who had a disappointing race, finishing eighth after starting eleventh.

The race was far from a straightforward affair, with the initial stages proving relatively uneventful. However, the tension ratcheted up as Norris began closing in on Verstappen in the closing stages, thrilling the 200,000-strong crowd who had flocked to the circuit over the weekend.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner acknowledged McLaren’s impressive pace, stating: “The cars are converging after the latest upgrades, they are looking very similar. McLaren were very quick at this circuit and Ferrari as well.”

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix also witnessed its share of drama and setbacks. Williams’ Alex Albon was handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for a botched tyre change, while Fernando Alonso saw his front left brakes catch fire during a pit stop.

The Formula One now moves on to Monaco, where the battle for supremacy is sure to continue.

 

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