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Race report
Formula 1 Emilia Romagna GP

F1 Imola GP: Verstappen resists late Norris push for fifth win of 2024

Red Bull's Max Verstappen dominated most of Formula 1's 2024 Imola Grand Prix, but had to survive a late Lando Norris onslaught to win, with Charles Leclerc third.

Higher tyre degradation than expected compared to when Red Bull struggled badly for car balance in practice on Friday appeared to ease Verstappen's path, as he was also boosted by the set-up work completed at his team's factory ahead of qualifying.

Norris did mount a ferocious late-race charge as he worked his hard tyres better than Verstappen in the second of two stints, but the world champion held on to win by 0.7s.

"It hurts me to say, but one or two more laps and I think I would've had him," the McLaren driver said afterwards.

"Tough, a shame. I fought hard right to the very last lap. We just lost out a little bit too much to Max in the beginning. He was much better in the first stint and obviously in the second we were stronger.

"That just was a tough first half and a much better second half. One or two more laps would've been beautiful, just not today."

At the start, Norris did gain slightly on polesitter Verstappen when they reacted to the lights, but his line took him to the outside of the track's first braking point at the Tamburello chicane where he could not get near enough to make an attack.

As Leclerc and his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz slotted in behind the leaders, Verstappen scampered clear enough to deprive Norris of DRS even when it was activated on lap two of 63.

Verstappen then just tore regular chunks from his rival to build his lead to 6.5s by lap 22 – although he did make his life harder later in the race for abusing track limits to such an extent he was formally warned by the FIA.

Norris initially dropped Leclerc in the first stint before the Ferrari closed back in, with Norris becoming the first of the leaders to pit on lap 22 to go from the mediums they had all started on to the hards, with Verstappen coming in two laps later.

Leclerc was left out until lap 25, which meant Norris eased away pushing early in the second stint and Sainz stopping even later meant Oscar Piastri undercut the second Ferrari for fourth – having chased Sainz closely for most of the first stint.

Verstappen started the final stint with a 5.6s lead thanks to Norris's earlier stop, with the Dutchman then rebuilding his lead over the next phase, albeit not as rapidly as at the start.

Indeed, at this stage, Leclerc chomped into what had been a three-second Norris advantage post-pitstop and got to within DRS range of the McLaren by lap 43.

But an off at the Variante Alta chicane shortly afterwards sapped Leclerc's momentum, just when Norris's hard tyre stint was transformed and he started to quickly catch Verstappen, who complained that his rubber did not work.

Norris pushed hard – saving several wild moments at the track's first two chicanes as the race traversed its final five laps – but he wound up just short, with Leclerc finishing 7.1s further back in third.

Piastri came home 6.2s back from Leclerc, while Sainz ended falling back to 8.2s off the second McLaren.

Lewis Hamilton had a trip through the Acque Mineral gravel on his way to sixth, with his Mercedes team-mate George Russell stopping for a second time late on and dropping down to seventh, but with enough pace back on the mediums to secure the fastest lap bonus point.

Sergio Perez rescued just eighth in the other Red Bull from his 11th place starting spot – the Mexican driver starting on the contra-strategy and running long on hards, with most of the frontrunners easily battling by him after they pitted before he himself climbed on the mediums for the races second half.

Alex Albon was the race’s only retirement – the Williams driver having his race ruined by a stop/go penalty for leaving his first stop with a loose wheel, after which he toured back to the pits slowly and ended up two laps down before he was withdrawn 10 tours from the end.

1
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5
1
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2
Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval km/h Pits Points Retirement Chassis Engine
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 63

-

1 25 Red Bull Red Bull
2 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 63

+0.725

0.725

0.725 1 18 McLaren Mercedes
3 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 63

+7.916

7.916

7.191 1 15 Ferrari Ferrari
4 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 63

+14.132

14.132

6.216 1 12 McLaren Mercedes
5 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 63

+22.325

22.325

8.193 1 10 Ferrari Ferrari
6 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 63

+35.104

35.104

12.779 1 8 Mercedes Mercedes
7 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 63

+47.154

47.154

12.050 2 7 Mercedes Mercedes
8 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 63

+54.776

54.776

7.622 1 4 Red Bull Red Bull
9 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 63

+1'19.556

1'19.556

24.780 1 2 Aston Martin Mercedes
10 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 62

1 lap

1 1 RB Red Bull
11 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 62

1 lap

1 Haas Ferrari
12 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 62

1 lap

1 Haas Ferrari
13 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 62

1 lap

1 RB Red Bull
14 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 62

1 lap

1 Alpine Renault
15 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 62

1 lap

1 Sauber Ferrari
16 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 62

1 lap

2 Alpine Renault
17 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 62

1 lap

1 Williams Mercedes
18 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 62

1 lap

1 Sauber Ferrari
19 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 62

1 lap

3 Aston Martin Mercedes
dnf Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 51

12 laps

5 Retirement Williams Mercedes

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