Imola GP: Verstappen dominates to win after heavy crash for Bottas/Russell
The Dutchman showed his class after a heavy crash of his rivals.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen had a handsome win in F1 Imola GP from Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and McLaren's Lando Norris.
Even before the F1 Imola GP started, there was drama for Alpine's Fernando Alonso, who hit the wall on his way to the grid in tricky and wet conditions. There was brake fire at Aston Martin for Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel too.
The latter was forced to start from the pitlane with a brake-by-wire issue. The Imola GP started with everyone on the intermediate tyres, with AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, Alpine's Esteban Ocon and the Haas F1 duo on the full wet tyres.
The start saw a squabble between Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, which was noted by the FIA stewards, but no investigation was necessary. The Dutchman took the lead, where the British racer had to take the kerb line.
It damaged his car a bit as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc passed Red Bull's Sergio Perez after the the Mexican's minor off. Even before they could settle, Williams' Nicholas Latifi went off and upon re-joining, had a collision with Haas' Nikita Mazepin.
Both were unsighted as it ended Latifi's Imola GP with the safety car deployed. There was a spin for Haas' Mick Schumacher too behind the safety car, as he was warming-up his tyres. Since he crashed into the wall of pit exit, the pitlane entry was closed.
It forced him to do more laps with a broken front wing. During the same period, Perez had another off where he lost couple of places. He immediately retook those places, where he was penalised with a 10s stop/go penalty for overtaking under safety car.
On re-start, Perez also complained of steering wheel issues, as he ran fourth behind Verstappen, Hamilton and Leclerc. Behind the Mexican, there was host of fights, where Gasly was the biggest to lose on the full wet weather tyres.
He dropped to the back of the field as AlphaTauri finally pitted him for intermediate tyres. The biggest gainer was McLaren's Lando Norris, who climbed up to sixth. The two were in their own league, where h was battling teammate Daniel Ricciardo ahead.
Norris was pressing his team by noting that he had lot more pace than Ricciardo ahead. The team eventually allowed the Brit to pass the Australian to check his pace. Meanwhile, behind them, Ferrari's Carlos Sainz hung on to seventh despite multiple off moments.
Aston Martin's Stroll was eighth from Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas. The Finn did not seem to have enough, while being chased by Williams' George Russell in the Top 10, where Alfa Romeo duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi just behind in 11th and 12th.
With the raining easing a bit, Aston Martin's Vettel was the first to switch to slick tyres, but the optimism died soon when he was handed a 10s stop/go penalty, for not having his wheels fitted onto the car pre-race, when five minutes warning was rung.
The lower half started to pit but it was Verstappen do pitted first to switch onto the medium tyres, where Hamilton went one lap further. A bit of a slower stop for the Brit kept the gap between the two, as both had streak of traffic to go through by.
While Verstappen was getting through the field, Hamilton went off and just touched the wall. He managed to reverse and get back on track but was forced to pit to change his front wing. The race was red-flagged due to a huge crash between Bottas and Russell.
Russell tried to overtake Bottas on the lead-up to Turn 1, when the Brit and the Finn collided with each other in a heavy shunt. The impact onto the barrier was big, which required a red flag situation, with drivers visibly shaken.
There was also a spin for Alpine's Fernando Alonso in the corner. While the barrier repair job was carried on, it was Verstappen leading F1 Imola GP from Leclerc, Norris, Perez, Sainz and Ricciardo in the Top 6 and on the lead lap of the grand prix.
Stroll was seventh, one lap down on the leaders, with Raikkonen, Hamilton and AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda in the Top 10. Just ouside in 11th was Giovinazzi leading Alonso, Ocon, Gasly, Vettel, Schumacher and Mazepin.
It was a rolling start to F1 Imola GP and Verstappen almost had a scare when the safety car went in. He spin but caught himself well on the main straight to lead, while Norris passed Leclerc to take second. Behind, there was a spin for Tsunoda.
There was also a spin for Raikkonen behind the safety car. It was Verstappen leading from Norris with Leclerc third, holding of Perez. The Monegasque's teammate Sainz was fifth from Ricciardo, with Stroll keeping off Hamilton, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi.
They all gained a place when Perez spun onto the gravel to drop down to 14th, which allowed Sainz to be fourth from Ricciardo. At the same time, Hamilton was up to sixth after passing Stroll, with Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Alonso in the Top 10.
With a problem, Giovinazzi was forced to pit, which dropped him outside the Top 10. Gasly, meanwhile, moved to ninth after passing Alonso. The Spaniard lost to his teammate Ocon then, as Hamilton up ahead passed Ricciardo for fifth position.
Outside the points, Vettel - also with gear sync issues as Stroll - was fending off Perez, where the Mexican F1 driver did a repeat of Hamilton on Verstappen at the start. The Red Bull racer eventually got the place, to move to 12th in the chase of Alonso.
While Verstappen checked himself out from Norris, the British racer along with Leclerc and Sainz had company of Hamilton. The Brit cleared both the Ferrari drivers after much work, especially having stuck behind the Monegasque there.
It was hard work from Hamilton but he finally made it stick against Norris to take second, while the McLaren F1 driver had Leclerc and Sainz behind. In the distant was Ricciardo, who was fending off Stroll and Gasly - the latter having an off moment too.
Raikkonen was ninth but under investigation for rolling start infringement, as he had Ocon, Alonso and Perez on his tail. Tsunoda caught this fight but he had a 5s penalty for track limits as Mazepin had a late spin, while Vettel retired due to gearbox issues.
At the front, Verstappen scored the win in F1 Imola GP by 22.062s over Hamilton, who scored the fastest lap too. Norris scored his second career podium in third, keeping off Leclerc and Sainz, while Ricciardo held on to sixth in the end.
Stroll was seventh from Gasly with Raikkonen keeping ninth from Ocon, Alonso and Perez. Behind them, Tsunoda was 13th ahead of Giovinazzi, Vettel (classified still), Schumacher and Mazepin - the Italian was one lap down, while the Haas were two.
DNF: Bottas, Russell, Latifi
UPDATE: The incident between Bottas and Russell was adjudged to be a racing one by the stewards. "The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 63 (George Russell), the driver of Car 77 (Valtteri Bottas) and the team representatives and reviewed multiple angles of video evidence and telemetry," stated the stewards. "Car 63 approached car 77 to pass after the front straight a few laps after the restart when DRS had recently been enabled. Car 77 maintained his line throughout theincident along the right hand side of the dry line, leaving at least a full car’s width to the right at all times.
"Car 63 approached with a significant speed advantage. He moved to pass on the right. As the cars approached the kink of turn 1, the gap between them and the right hand side of the track decreased. At no time did either car manoeuvre erratically. The track appeared to be not especially wet through turn 1 but at the point of closest approach to the right hand side of the track, the right hand side tyres of Car 63 hit an especially damp patch and the car snap yawed, bearing in mind that the car had low downforce in the rear with the DRS open. The Stewards conclude that the accident was a racing incident considering the
conditions and take no further action."
At the same time, there was investigation in Stroll and Gasly, where the Canadian passed the Frenchman at Turn 2/3 while off the circuit. For this, the Aston Martin lost seventh to the AlphaTauri in the standings. "The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 18 (Lance Stroll), the driver of Car 10 (Pierre Gasly) and the team representatives and reviewed multiple angles of video evidence," the stewards statement said.
"The Stewards were informed after the race of an alleged breach. Having reviewed the video and heard from the drivers, the Stewards conclude that Car 18 was not able to complete his pass on car 10 at Turn 2/3 without leaving the track completely shortcutting turn 3 and returning on the track ahead of car 10. He then failed to give the position back. In hearing from the drivers the Stewards accepted that car 18 was ahead of car 10 at the point he left the track, but that he was in that position because of a manoeuvre that he was not able to complete on the track given the wet conditions."
In another penalty, Raikkonen was handed a 10s stop and go penalty for a rolling start infringement, which dropped him to outside of points. The explanation goes: "The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 7 (Kimi Raikkonen), and the team representative and reviewed multiple angles of video evidence, telemetry and team radio. On the lap before the re-start following the race suspension, Raikkonen spun at Turn 3. Art 42.6 indicates that the driver may retake his position, so long as he does so prior to the first safety car line (SC1). At first the team instructed him to do so, but then told him to hold his position.
"Art 42.6 then indicates that should a driver fail to take his position he must enter the pit lane and can only re-join the race once the whole field has passed the pit exit. Art 42.12 indicates that during a rolling start, once the safety car turns its lights out, “No driver may overtake another car on the track until he passes the Line…” In this case, the driver caught up to the cars ahead of him between Turn 13 and 14, but the safety car turned its lights out at approximately Turn 10. This would appear to be a contradictory instruction and the team instructed the driver to not regain his position, fearing that this would create a safety issue in the wet conditions. They radioed the Race Director, but there was no time for a response between their call and the restart.
"The Stewards consider it to be a further contradiction that when the cars are behind the safety car during a safety car period, the are prohibited from passing, but when they are behind the safety car for a restart, they are permitted to – even though the reasons for a rolling start are that the track conditions don’t permit a standing start. However, the rule requiring a car to enter the pit lane if it fails to regain its position is consistent amongst several championships, has been in the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations for several years and has been consistently applied. The penalty is a mandatory penalty, and therefore the Stewards consider that they have no alternative than to apply this penalty for reasons of consistency."
Revised Result: Hamilton, Verstappen, Norris, Leclerc, Sainz, Ricciardo, Gasly, Stroll, Ocon, Alonso, Perez, Tsunoda, Raikkonen
[Image courtesy: Red Bull Content Pool] [Note: This story was written on FormulaRapida.net]