Red Bull’s Max Verstappen wins chaotic race in Imola
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won a chaotic and crash-halted Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola on Sunday with Lewis Hamilton second for Mercedes and retaining the lead in the championship by a single point.
The win, by a commanding 22 seconds at the chequered flag, was the 11th of the Dutch youngster’s career.
“It was very challenging, especially in the beginning to stay on track to be honest, it was very slippery,” he said of a race that started with most drivers on intermediates but some on full wets. “I think we managed everything well.”
Hamilton, winner of the Bahrain season-opener, took a crucial bonus point for fastest lap on a roller coaster afternoon for the seven-time world champion, whose race was almost wrecked by a rare mistake. The Briton started on pole, his 99th, but dropped from second to ninth after skidding into the gravel and nudging the barriers at Tosa with his car at a standstill and a retirement looming.
He kept the engine running, reversed back out, returned to the pits and fought his way back to the podium with a stirring recovery drive after the race was stopped and re-started halfway through.
McLaren’s Lando Norris completed the top three in the first time two British drivers had stood together on the podium since 2012. Hamilton now has 44 points to Verstappen’s 43, with Norris on 23. Mercedes stayed top of the constructors’ standings with 60 points to Red Bull’s 53.
Verstappen seized the lead into turn two on the opening lap, forcing his way through with a great start from third on the grid but making contact with the Mercedes as he went.
The race was halted due to debris after a big collision between Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, who had started eighth, and Williams’ George Russell on lap 32 in a battle for ninth place.