A flat tire cost Max Verstappen a second place on Sunday at the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna. Lewis Hamilton won the race at Imola and took the constructors’ title with Mercedes for the seventh year in a row.
Hamilton booked his third victory in a row and took another big step to his seventh world title. The 35-year-old Brit dropped to third place at the start, but grabbed the lead halfway through the race when he was able to make a pit stop at a virtual safety car.
Verstappen was in second place with thirteen laps to go when he suffered a blowout and retired. The Red Bull driver did not finish in any of the three Italian races this year (Monza, Mugello and Imola).
Valtteri Bottas took advantage of the bad luck at Verstappen by taking over second place. That was more than enough for Mercedes to grab the seventh constructors title in a row. Daniel Ricciardo finished third and took his second podium of the year.
In the World Championship standings for drivers, Hamilton has an 85 points lead over Bottas. In two weeks in Istanbul he can take his seventh world title and thus equal Michael Schumacher. Verstappen is 35 points behind the Finn in third place.
Result GP Emilia-Romagna
- 1. Hamilton (Mercedes) 25 points +1
- 2. Bottas (Mercedes) 18 points
- 3. Ricciardo (Renault) 15 points
- 4. Kvyat (AlphaTauri) 12 points
- 5. Leclerc (Ferrari) 10 points
- 6. Pérez (Racing Point) 8 points
- 7. Sainz (McLaren) 6 points
- 8. Norris (McLaren) 4 points
- 9. Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) 2 points
- 10. Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) 1 point
Verstappen passes Hamilton at the start
At the start at Imola, Verstappen immediately succeeded in taking over second place from Hamilton. Bottas kept the lead from pole position and the top three quickly broke away from the rest of the field, led by Ricciardo.
Shortly behind Ricciardo was Pierre Gasly, but the Frenchman from AlphaTauri was the first to retire with a technical problem. In total, five cars would not make it to the finish.
The differences between Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton remained small, until Verstappen made his pit stop after seventeen lap. Leader Bottas followed a lap later and re-entered the track two seconds ahead of the Red Bull driver.
Under pressure from Verstappen, Bottas makes a mistake and ends up briefly in the gravel pit. (Photo: Getty Images)
Hamilton takes lead with virtual safety car
Hamilton drove much longer than the other two and had just built a safe lead over Bottas to make a pit stop when Esteban Ocon’s Renault came to a halt along the track with a technical problem.
This created a safety car situation and Hamilton was able to make his pit stop without losing much time. With a lead of about five seconds on Bottas, he returned to the track as leader.
While Hamilton was steadily walking away, Verstappen put the pressure on Bottas. The Finn made a small mistake twice, which Verstappen could take advantage of by passing him at the end of the long straight with the help of the DRS.
Verstappen retires with a blowout
With nineteen laps to go, the gap to Hamilton was thirteen seconds and second place seemed a certainty. Until the right rear tire of Verstappen suddenly broke down. The Limburger’s race ended in the gravel pit and a safety car entered the track.
George Russell inexplicably ended up in the tire stack behind that safety car. The Williams driver was tenth and was on his way to the first World Cup points of his career. In addition, Lance Stroll created a curious moment by almost knocking over one of his team members at a pit stop.
When the safety car was off track, Alexander Albon was passed by Sergio Pérez. The already so criticized teammate of Verstappen took too much risk in that game, spun over the track and ended up in last place. With that, the weekend ended scoreless for Red Bull.
At Mercedes, however, it was a big party. With the fifth one-two of the season, the German team secured the seventh world title in the hybrid era.