F1 Emilia Romagna GP: Verstappen wins thriller as Hamilton recovers to second

Max Verstappen won a thrilling wet-dry Emilia Romagna Formula 1 race, featuring the Red Bull driver colliding with Lewis Hamilton, and Valtteri Bottas and George Russell suffering a race-suspending crash.

F1 Emilia Romagna GP: Verstappen wins thriller as Hamilton recovers to second

Verstappen and Hamilton clashed at the race’s opening corners, with the latter then having to put in a recovery drive after sliding off into the gravel at the Tosa hairpin just before the red flag shortly before half distance thanks to the massive accident involving his Mercedes team-mate.

Rain falling in the first half of the Imola lap in the hour ahead of the race start meant most of the cars left the grid on intermediate tyres.

From third at the start, Verstappen made a perfect getaway to pull alongside Sergio Perez when the lights went out, and was quickly able to challenge polesitter Hamilton – nearly running onto the grass on his left-hand side – as they shot down to the Tamburello chicane.

Verstappen was ahead by the braking zone but Hamilton braked later to stay on the outside and the pair went side-by-side around the first left part of the sequence.

The Red Bull held the racing line and, when Hamilton determinedly kept his nose alongside, they clashed at the chicane’s second apex, damaging the Mercedes’ left-front wing endplate and forcing Hamilton to clatter over the kerbs.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battles with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battles with Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen roared clear in the lead as the pack behind continued to tentatively make their way around the opening tour, which ended with the safety car being deployed after Nicholas Latifi speared into the wall exiting Acque Minerali, where he had just spun off, and pulled across the front of Nikita Mazepin’s Haas.

The race was paused until the start of lap seven of 63, an extended period as a result of Mick Schumacher losing the rear of his Haas warming his tyres in the safety car queue and knocking his front wing off on the wall near the pit exit, which was closed as the debris was cleared.

Verstappen was able stay ahead of Hamilton as the Briton looked to the outside on the run to Tamburello as they got back up to racing speed, with Charles Leclerc, who had passed Perez for third exiting the Variante Alta seconds before Latifi’s crash, also following closely in third.

But a slide exiting Acque Minerali from Hamilton gave Verstappen breathing room and he had a 3.3-second lead at the end of the first racing lap.

Verstappen quickly set about extending his advantage to the five-second mark, with Leclerc soon disappearing from Hamilton’s rear, but well clear of Perez, who was handed a 10s-time addition for overtaking under the safety car as he had slide wide at Piratella and briefly let Daniel Ricciardo and the full-wet shod Pierre Gasly get by.

Hamilton was able to keep Verstappen’s lead at around five seconds for the next phase of the race as they exchanged fastest laps while considering when to come in and change their inters to slick tyres.

Just after Verstappen had edged his advantage up to 6s approaching half distance, Hamilton was suddenly able to gain significantly, cutting the gap in half over two laps before they reached traffic at the rear of the pack.

Once they had cleared the cars in front, Verstappen’s lead was down to two seconds and, after a radio exchange with his team, he pitted for slicks at the end of lap 27.

Hamilton also came in for mediums at the end of the following lap, but the decision to stay out for a tour and the right front coming slowly off the Mercedes meant Verstappen’s lead was back up to 5.5s at the start of lap 31.

On that tour, which had started with Verstappen lapping Valtteri Bottas, running near the end of the top 10 in the second Mercedes and at the head of another pack of lapped traffic, Hamilton locked up lapping Russell at Tosa and slid into the gravel.

He went far enough to damage his front wing against the outside wall when he attempted to turn onto the escape road, which forced him to stop and slowly engage reverse and eventually go backwards out the long way onto the track.

Hamilton toured back to the pits, promoting Leclerc to second and Norris to third after Perez had dropped behind the McLaren during his penalty-addled pitstop, to change his front wing but was able to make his second stop under the safety car after Bottas and Russell’s massive accident at Tamburello.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, changes his front wing in the pits

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, changes his front wing in the pits

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

The Williams driver had been closing in very fast on the outside of the Mercedes approaching the chicane’s left apex and, just before they reached the braking zone, they ran very close together.

Russell appeared to put his right-rear wheel on the grass, possibly in reaction to Bottas jinking right – the incident is to be investigated after the race – and the Briton’s car shot left and the pair were both eliminated in a huge crash into the barriers on the inside and then outside of Tamburello, where they remonstrated with each other in the gravel after coming to a stop.

The race was red flagged for 25 minutes before it was resumed at the start of lap 35, but with a rolling safety car restart instead of a second grid start – which was used at Monza and Mugello in 2020.

Verstappen dropped Leclerc when he reached the line, seconds after the Red Bull had nearly spun the lead away when he had to catch a big moment and cut across the inside of the first Rivazza turn as the safety car peeled off ahead.

The lack of tow behind Verstappen left Leclerc vulnerable to Norris and the McLaren driver – running the softs compared to the mediums on the Ferrari and Red Bull – duly claimed second at Tamburello.

Verstappen scampered clear at the front, reaching a six-second advantage by the start of lap 43, with Norris attempting to keep his softer tyres alive to the finish ahead of Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr, who had been promoted by Perez spinning off behind the lead Ferrari as he ran through the Villeneuve chicane on lap 38 and dropping to P14.

In the pack behind, Hamilton was attempting a recovery drive after gaining back the lap he’d lost with his Tosa off and slow lap back to the pits thanks to the red flag.

He took the restart in ninth, immediately gaining a spot when Yuki Tsunoda spun off in front of the Mercedes at Tamburello on the first lap back to racing speed, and then picking off Lance Stroll and Ricciardo in quick succession once he’d fired up his mediums and benefitted from the DRS power into Tamburello.

Hamilton took a while to close in on the Ferraris ahead but eventually passed Sainz to set up a tense chase into the closing stages, with Norris trying to hold off Leclerc as Hamilton came up behind them.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battles with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, battles with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF21

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

When Leclerc dropped back and lost DRS behind Norris at the start of lap 55, Hamilton didn’t hesitate and took third blasting along the outside ahead of the Tamburello braking zone and set off after the McLaren.

Norris held on for a further five laps but, in the end, Hamilton was able to make a near-identical move with DRS at the start of lap 60 to retake the second place he had lost nearly half the race earlier.

Verstappen was already 20s up the road and the two leaders exchanged fastest laps in the final few tours, which eventually went to Hamilton, as Verstappen won by 22s, with Norris coming home 1.7s behind the Mercedes.

Leclerc and Sainz, who had had several offs during the wet opening stages, took fourth and fifth, ahead of Ricciardo and Stroll – the Aston Martin driver claiming points after his car was hurriedly repaired when its brakes caught fire on the laps to the grid as the rain initially fell.

Gasly ended up eighth having been a rolling roadblock on his full wets early on, with Kimi Raikkonen ninth but facing a post-race investigation for a possible rolling start restart infraction.

Esteban Ocon took the final point in 10th ahead of his Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso, who had knocked his front wing off sliding off at Tosa on the pre-race laps ahead of the start and later had a spin in the aftermath of the Bottas/Russell shunt.

Perez ended up 12th ahead of Tsunoda, while Sebastian Vettel was a late retirement with a suspected gearbox issue.

Result - 63 laps

Cla Driver Chassis Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull  
2 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 22.000
3 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 23.702
4 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 25.579
5 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 27.036
6 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 51.220
7 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin 51.909
8 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 52.818
9 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1'04.773
10 France Esteban Ocon Alpine 1'05.704
11 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 1'06.561
12 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'07.151
13 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1'13.184
14 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo  
15 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin  
16 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas  
17 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas  
  Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes  
  United Kingdom George Russell Williams  
  Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams  
shares
comments
Bottas: Imola F1 crash with Russell "clearly" Williams driver's "mistake"

Previous article

Bottas: Imola F1 crash with Russell "clearly" Williams driver's "mistake"

Next article

Russell: Bottas may not have made same F1 Imola move on another driver

Russell: Bottas may not have made same F1 Imola move on another driver
Load comments
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Plus

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Plus

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz Jr. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021