It was redemption for Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing as the Dutchman took a dominant victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola.
In treacherous conditions, it was Verstappen who reacted quickest as the lights went out as he went from third place on the grid to leading by Turn 2. From then on he controlled the entire race as the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit evolved from wet to dry.
His Red Bull team timed the pit-stop and change from the intermediates to the slicks perfectly, as he managed to control the gap to Lewis Hamilton behind comfortably.
It was no easy drive however for Verstappen because whilst almost everyone around him faltered, including Hamilton, Verstappen too came close to throwing it away. As he went to restart the race after the red flag caused by Valtteri Bottas and George Russell’s huge crash at Turn 2, he lit up the rears almost causing what would have been an embarrassing spin.
Despite that it was a brilliant victory for Verstappen after the heartbreak of the Bahrain Grand Prix, who will most certainly have his eyes set on taking his momentum into the Portuguese Grand Prix, in two weeks time.
“I am of course very happy with this win for everyone in the Team and Honda. I think the key was of course the start as we had a great launch. I surprised myself as it was always hard to get off the line in the wet last year but we worked hard to try and improve that and it worked.”
“The conditions were challenging out there, especially in the beginning and it was very hard to stay on track but we stayed out of trouble. I wouldn’t call it a dominant performance as Lewis was following me quite well and for him to come back to second after his incident means they have a lot of pace in that car.”
“We won because we made the right calls with tyres at the right time and the Team managed everything well in these conditions. With the tyres degrading, choosing the right moment to go onto slicks wasn’t easy but we got it right. I had a little moment at the re-start trying to warm up the tyres with some throttle but luckily we didn’t spin.”
“We still have to work hard to improve because it’s very close, but for now I’m very happy with the result. I’m looking forward to Portimão because it’s an amazing track and then we go to a track we all know well in Barcelona. We’ll see what we can do but so far, it’s been a good start to the year.”
“I’m very disappointed in myself” – Pérez
Unfortunately the good spirit can’t be seen throughout the Red Bull garage because whilst one side of the garage was flawless, the other was flawed, with Sergio Pérez being the latter.
After such a brilliant qualifying for the Mexican, he succumbed under the pressure of the changing conditions. Pérez’s race was faltered through his own doing as he ran off circuit under the safety car losing two places in the process. However when rejoining the circuit he decided to retake his positions immediately. A move which saw him awarded a ten second stop/go penalty.
He did find himself again in the top five after the red flag restart, only for him to spin off ending any hope of a points finish.
This ultimately ruined his entire race after beginning the day in such a promising position, instead of a podium it was twelfth place for Pérez.
“The conditions out there were really difficult today and I made quite a few mistakes that were very costly. I struggled to retain any temperature in the tyres, so I lost it under the safety car and I got a 10 second penalty.”
“It is of course important that I get used to the car and that I learn these lessons, but I messed up, I’m very disappointed in myself and really sorry to the Team.”
“I think at the re-start the podium was ours and the pace of the car was good today, we should have finished one and two on the podium. Let’s focus on the next race now, we will work really hard as a Team and come back stronger.”