Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2024

Verstappen out-runs charging Norris to win in nail-biting finish at Imola

Formula 1

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Max Verstappen resisted a late charge by Lando Norris to win the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix by just seven tenths of a second.

The championship leader took his fifth win of the season despite struggling with his tyres for the final part of the race.

Verstappen led the race from the start and appeared to be in control of matters out front until complaining about tyre wear on his hard compound tyres. Despite Norris having slightly older rubber than Verstappen, the McLaren driver was able to gradually reel in the leader ahead of him over the closing laps.

The McLaren driver got within two seconds of the Red Bull in the final three laps, but Norris was unable to get close enough to attempt a late move for the lead, allowing Verstappen to cling onto the lead to the chequered flag.

Verstappen had received an early black-and-white warning flag for three track limits strikes, but avoided a fourth infraction and a subsequent five second penalty that would have cost him victory.

Charles Leclerc completed the podium in third, six seconds behind the leading pair.

Oscar Piastri finished fourth having undercut Carlos Sainz Jnr in the pit stops, with the Ferrari driver finishing fifth. The two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished in sixth and seventh after Russell made one stop more than the rest of the top ten.

Sergio Perez went off at Rivazza on his way to eighth. Lance Stroll and Yuki Tsunoda picked up the final points in ninth and tenth, respectively.

Alexander Albon was the only retirement from the race after a torrid afternoon where he hit with a ten second stop-and-go penalty for an unsafe release after being let out of his pit box with a loose wheel. However, Albon has been summoned to the stewards after the race for allegedly continuing to drive his car in an unsafe condition.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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38 comments on “Verstappen out-runs charging Norris to win in nail-biting finish at Imola”

  1. A largely straightforward race (partly thanks to FIA for shortening the activation zone by 100 meters for the sake of shortening) with some excitement towards the end.
    I’m surprised Albon stayed in the race as long as he did instead of retiring way sooner to conserve components.
    Good race by Stroll, although Perez’s (& Bottas’) strategy was weird & ultimately didn’t pay off at all.

    1. Yeah, i guess Williams wanted to gain as much info as they could after the race was done in for them. Stroll really has a really solid weekend here, good racing, and it did look like that 1 stop with the very long first stint on hards really didn’t work well for them, Perez dropped a lot of places in the last part of that, maybe changing tyres earlier would have given him a chance at getting onto the Mercedes cars.

      It was great to see that Max really had to drive to his best ability with Norris chasing, let’s hope it’s a sign of more close races to come!

      1. Yup, hardly a nail biter. Given how hard it was for Piastri to pass, and the Red Bull’s excellent top speed it was always going to be very difficult for Norris to pass.

  2. Let’s be real, they both had worn tyres. Was there any overtaking between cars with similarly aged tyres in this race? Among the top runners i’m sure there wasn’t any.

    So of course i never expected Norris to do anything. The real risk Max was at was of making a mistake. Norris wouldn’t try a late lunge or something like that even if this race had another thousand laps. He’s not that kind of driver.

    1. Barely any overtaking moves for a position between two drivers on similarly-aged tyres.
      The very first on-track pass beyond the opening lap happened after the first pit stops, which speaks volumes.

      1. Yeah, this is a lovely driving track but never was a great track for overtaking, for that you really need a tyre advantage or a fuel difference in years gone by. Or force the other car into a mistake on ragged edge. I do think that with a lap or 2 more Norris would have a shot at an overtake, but it was close enough to enjoy the racing.

  3. “nail-biting finish”? Not really, not at all. It was an anti-climatic finish once Lando was no longer able to do much faster laps then Verstappen.

  4. 2005 & 2006 were nail biting finishes. This was a straight forward race for Max up till the last 6 laps when McLaren decided enough tyre management and let’s test our pace.

    1. This was a straight forward race for Max up till the last 6 laps when

      …when Lambiase pointed out to Max that he couldn’t go beyond track limits any more, or he’d get a 5-second penalty and Norris was within 5 seconds of him?

  5. Nail-biting?

    Yeah … and Vanilla flavoured Yogurt is like an insanely radical flavour experience right?

    1. Comment of the day :)

  6. Mclaren are really coming at them. At this point, Constructor’s championship might be within reach for Mclaren and Ferrari, especially if Sergio Paceless has performances like this weekend.

  7. I hope this race helped to convince everybody that F1 cant get rid of DRS yet.
    With ineffective DRS we didnt see “tougher” overtakes, we’ve seen no overtakes.
    With older cars, they wouldnt even try to follow closer than 2 seconds.

    1. There were quite a few overtakes outside of the DRS area. And of course drivers would be willing to push for moves in less “obvious” places if they knew they didn’t have a push button-operated easy mode on the main straight.

      1. I agree Andy. We got to see quite a few out there overtakes from the midfield, that was good to see how these drivers show they can go for unexpected and gutsy moves if they have to.

  8. Neil (@neilosjames)
    19th May 2024, 16:49

    Wouldn’t call it nail-biting. Norris had nowhere near enough of a pace/tyre advantage to even attack Verstappen, let alone overtake him. He’d have just parked in the DRS zone and stayed where he was, like everyone else did… gaining a few tenths on the straight but never looking remotely likely to make a pass.

    1. yeah, Max let him catch up, and made sure he couldn’t DRS him down the straight, his timing was so good, on the penultimate lap in to the DRS detection that there is no way Max was going to lose the lap. If Norris had a chance he would have caught him much sooner.

  9. Another race, another record broken. Predictably.

  10. Unbelievable performance from Verstappen. He is just on another level. GOAT

    1. Unbelievable performance from Verstappen.

      Yep, difficult to believe that a guy driving the fastest car on the track has to exceed track limits to maintain his lead, and do it so often he was on a final warning for a 5-second penalty.

      1. seemed more like a sound bite for the commentary. what are those literary devices called ? oh yeah, foreshadowing.
        RB are just playing weak so they don’t get wrecked for 2025.

    2. Pole and the win on a bad weekend is again a strong race for Max. Reminds me of Lewis who could also make the difference when it mattered. RB needs to get their act together though. This is their second off weekend this season where, luckily for them, Max could compensate. Overall team performance needs to be improved.

      1. I wouldn’t say that, red bull seems strong enough as it is, any more than that and you get dominance again.

  11. This race was over by the first turn; I don’t buy the “nail-biting finish” a bit.

    1. I remember having similar feelings when Mercedes were winning everything – even when they didn’t run away with a particular race, and had to fight hard or were run close by another team, I struggled to find much excitement in it if they did end up winning. So I understand the instinct, but it is a joyless, unrewarding way of experiencing F1, and I hope you get over it soon.

      1. At least then the wingman kind of stood a chance, and got a win every other couple of races to keep things sort of interesting.

        1. It seems the current wingman is ‘wingless’, as if a certain energy drinks company’s tagline is false.

        2. But that was only because the car compensated for Bottas’ skill gap to Lewis. Which makes it worse imho since it proves the car’s share in the victories achieved was larger.

      2. + 1. I think people are being unduly negative. OK it was just the tyres wearing out but I think Lando might have had a shot at passing Max given another couple of laps. I don’t think he would have stalled in the DRS zone.

        By today’s standards it was ‘nail-biting’. Not if you’re judging it by the 90s or 80s.

      3. @red-andy Unfair on @weiliwen
        You can be fine with Verstappen winning everything but not think this race was ever really in question after lap 1, and especially doubtful that Norris was ever going to catch yet alone pass Verstappen. It seemed a classic case of not quite close enough / not quite lapping faster enough for the race win to be at risk for the leader.
        Personally I have indeed been fed up with Verstappen winning everything easily with no risk from his team mate. The last two races have shown McLaren’s challenge to be real. Still not enough – probably – to put the championship in jeopardy, but maybe enough to win some more races this season. Compared to last year, I’ll take it. There’s a reason to watch. If Verstappen, like today, still wins, fine, he’s at least now sweating for those wins.

        1. A season where more teams can compete for wins on merit but not for the championship would be like 2019, I’d also take that over 2023.

          1. @esploratore1 I agree, 2019 was a better year.

  12. I think if Norris started on pole he would have a chance. And he had a car capable of that. This win was totally on Max merit.

    1. Yes, definitely a better chance with norris starting on pole, the biggest difficulty would come from keeping verstappen behind at start and during the first stint, where he was much faster.

  13. Max looked pretty drained after the race. He proved his masterclass again and I kind of expected the outcome to be like this. I knew he’s of such a caliber to pull out a rabbit or two when necessary. First rabbit stopped working after track limits warning and he quickly pulled out a second one by adapting to constrains after couple of laps successfully defending the lead. A driving genius, to say the least. I enjoyed every second of his performance today. But, Lando was my driver of the day!

  14. Never understood why F1 race here. It’s easily the most boring track and makes you long for the likes of Sochi to be brought back!!

  15. more fixed racing. Max had control the whole time, and this is all to keep the fans stupefied.

  16. There’s a reason they call it Formula 1.
    Only one guy ever wins races.

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