Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won a dramatic Imola race over teammate Sergio Perez as Ferrari drivers couldn’t deliver on home turf and retired from the race here on Sunday.
However, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc spun late on to finish sixth after his teammate Spain’s Carlos Sainz retired from the race. Along with Sainz, compatriot Fernando Alonso was the other who could not finish the race.
The Dutchman Max Verstappen topped Saturday’s Sprint and led off the line on Sunday, teammate Perez joining him at the front – while Leclerc momentarily dropped to fourth.
The Safety Car emerged on the opening lap as Daniel Ricciardo tipped Carlos Sainz into the gravel and out of the race for the second Grand Prix.
With the track drying, drivers began to swap from interns to mediums on Lap 19 – Perez coming in before Max Verstappen, who led Leclerc into the pits one lap later. The Monegasque emerged just ahead of the Mexican, but Perez skated past for P2 with warmer tyres and then kept the Ferrari at bay.
A late gamble to pit for softs from P3 by Leclerc saw the Red Bull drivers follow suit and retain the lead, but on Lap 54 – again in chase of Perez – the championship leader spun and hit the wall at Variante Alta. He dropped down to ninth having had to pit for a new nose and softs, and recovered only to P6 at the flag.
Lando Norris, therefore, took the final podium place, promoted twice with Sainz retiring and Leclerc going off track.
Mercedes’ George Russell enjoyed a brilliant start and was up seven places to P4 as the chequered flag loomed, holding off Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas by under a second despite a late duel with the driver he replaced at the Silver Arrows.
Yuki Tsunoda finished seventh for AlphaTauri, passing Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel (P8) late on – while Leclerc finished ahead of the pair with his late rescue effort.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen ran as high as P5 thanks to another blistering start but fell back down the order to ninth. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll rounded out the top 10, a double-points haul for the team that entered Imola on zero.
Alex Albon’s solid showing put him 11th, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierr’ Gasly – who couldn’t pry his way past even with DRS (which was activated when the track was deemed dry enough on Lap 34).
Lewis Hamilton was next, the Mercedes driver having been unceremoniously lapped by Verstappen on Lap 40, to finish 13th – Esteban Ocon finishing 11th but dropping to 14th thanks to a five-second penalty for an unsafe release.
Zhou Guanyu started from the pit lane after his Sprint crash, the Alfa Romeo driver taking P15 ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.
In 17th was Mick Schumacher, the Haas driver having spun twice on Sunday afternoon – while Daniel Ricciardo was last and 18th after his Lap 1 tangle with Sainz, pitting again for hard midway through the race in a fruitless strategy.
(Inputs from IANS)