How Verstappen won chaotic Imola classic
Tuesday, April 20th, 2021
Max Verstappen kept his cool to claim a chaotic rain-hit Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday as seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton recovered from a rare mistake to sneak in second.
Red Bull driver Verstappen muscled past pole sitter Hamilton on the first corner at Imola to set up his impressive first win of the season.
“I surprised myself. We worked really hard to make that better. In these tricky conditions we did a great job,” the delighted Dutch driver said.
Lando Norris in a McLaren took third ahead of Charles Leclerc for Ferrari at the F1’ giant’s ‘home’ track close to their Marrenello HQ.
The outcome of a compelling second leg of the Formula One season confirmed Verstappen’s stature as a formidable obstacle to Hamilton’s quest for an unprecedented eighth drivers’ crown.
After winning the season-opener in Bahrain and putting in the fastest lap on Sunday Hamilton leads Verstappen by a mere point - 44 to 43 - ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix next time out.
Drama in the race itself had been on the cards as rain drenched the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in the run up to lights out, sparking mayhem.
Aston Martin mechanics had to scramble to douse flames on the rear brakes of Lance Stroll’s car, their counterparts at Mercedes got to work repairing a puncture on Valtteri Bottas’ car, as Fernando Alonso’s Alpine underwent a nose job after the two-time former champion hit a wall.
Drivers then stood under umbrellas during a passionate rendition of the Italian national anthem. -AFP