The 2021 Imola Grand Prix was worth the three-week gap Formula 1 had. The race featured almost everything from wet weather conditions, heavy crash, red flag and wheel-to-wheel action between the drivers.
How did Max Verstappen win the Imola Grand Prix?
The Imola Grand Prix race weekend did not start auspiciously for Max Verstappen. The 23-year-old had a gearbox issue in FP2, ending his session in just 10 mins. Things did not go too well on Saturday either. Despite looking like he had got his pace back, Verstappen could manage P3 in the qualifying, behind Hamilton and his teammate Sergio Perez.
However, the wet start to the Imola Grand Prix played to Verstappen's benefit. With Hamilton and Perez getting off the line slowly, Verstappen pounced on it and overtook both the cars to lead the race by the end of lap 1. From that point onwards, the Dutchman was in total control, only feeling the pressure as the first pit stops got closer.
Red Bull decided to bring in Max before Hamilton, switching to slick tires. Hamilton then pitted a lap later but had a slow pit stop. It allowed Verstappen to be 4 seconds ahead at the end of the first round of pit stops.
However, Lewis was faster on the dry tires and started to close down the gap. When the Mercedes was within striking distance of the Red Bull, Hamilton made a mistake at Tosa corner, went into the gravel and dropped down to P8.
However, there was a red flag to follow after a collision was caused by George Russell and Valtteri Bottas on lap 33. At the restart, Verstappen was unchallenged and cruised his way to take the checkered flag in P1.
This was Verstappen's first win in Italy, which was even sweeter after the Dutchman's previous outing at the Imola Grand Prix ended with a tire failure.
Despite winning the Imola Grand Prix, Verstappen trails Hamilton by one point in the drivers' championship. But the momentum is clearly with Red Bull going forward in the season.
Following the Imola Grand Prix, we now have a two-week break before Formula 1 returns to Portimao for the Portuguese Grand Prix.