Verstappen dominates at Imola but Hamilton recovers in style

Red Bull's leading man claims his first win of the season

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 4:28 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th April 2021, 4:30 pm
Lewis Hamilton battles with Max Verstappen at Imola
Lewis Hamilton battles with Max Verstappen at Imola

Lewis Hamilton s brilliant recovery drive saw him retain the world championship lead but it was Max Verstappen who claimed a dominant win in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

The race started in wet conditions, Verstappen made a brilliant start to climb from third to take the lead at the first chicane after a brief battle with Hamilton.

As the track dried, Hamilton closed in on the leader but went off trying to lap George Russell. Russell then collided in spectacular fashion with Valtteri Bottas to stop the race just over halfway.

Verstappen celebrates his win

Hamilton had to battle back from ninth place to get back into contention, passing the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and the two Ferraris Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc before mounting a charge on Lando Norris.

The McLaren driver made a great restart to be running second, but Hamilton had the pace to pass him with three laps to go and had to settle for third place - his second career podium.

Despite the Brit winning Driver of the Day and Hamilton taking fastest lap to retain the world championship lead, it was Verstappen who stood on the top step.

He said: "It was challenging at the beginning, very hard to stay on track. We had to choose the right time to come into slicks, but after that I was really happy.

"I was surprised by our start, we worked really hard to make that better.

"It's a long season, we'll stay calm!"

Hamilton said: "Congratulations to Max, it was a really solid job and also to Lando - it's great to see McLaren back up there.

"It was a mistake on my part. There was only one dey line and I was in a hurry. I could see it was wet but I couldn't stop. I'm so grateful we could get going and get points for the team.

"I didn't think about the championship at that stage, just learning from my mistake. I got back into the racing spirit, and had some great fun battles with all the guys out there."

Norris added: "I'm happy! It was a nice recovery after yesterday. I didn't start well, I tried to hang on to second but Lewis was too quick! It was nice to be up there on merit and pace.

"We opted to go on soft for the restart, I had good pace but knew I'd lose pace at the end. I'm happy with third!"

Leclerc led home Sainz for fourth and fifth for Ferrari, ahead of Ricciardo in the second McLaren in sixth. Lance Stroll brought home the Aston Martin in seventh, ahead of Pierre Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon.