F1 Racing: Red Bull fends off Mercedes in Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands drives the RB16B Honda on track during day one of Formula 1 testing at the Bahrain International Circuit on March 12. (Photo courtesy of Joe Portlock | Getty Images | Red Bull Content Pool)
By Jesus Coronel

Formula 1 drivers raced in wet conditions in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix during what would prove to be one of the more challenging races of the season.

After a spin in lap 31, Mercedes racer Lewis Hamilton went from contesting race leader Max Verstappen, the Red Bull racer, to seventh place and allowing the Red Bull driver to increase his lead in the race.

The only chance he had to potentially win the race was to have the safety car appear on the track. And fortune struck.

On Lap 32, Williams driver George Russell made a move on Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas. The move caused him to collide with Bottas, resulting in a major crash that led to a red flag. Both drivers were quick to blame each other for the crash.

“Valtteri moved very slightly and that just put me offline and put me onto the wet stuff,” Russell said in an interview. “In perfectly dry conditions on a very not ordinary circuit, it’s dangerous.”

Bottas argued what Russell tried to do made no sense at all.

“George got close and decided to go for a move,” Bottas said. “There was space all the time for two cars, but it didn’t make any sense. He obviously lost it and hit me.”

Hamilton dropped to ninth during the restart, but the competition would not be too far from him.

McLaren’s Lando Norris joined the clash as he went up to second place after the restart, in search of his first Formula 1 Victory.

Hamilton began to fight back for positions, having already overtaken Alphatauri’s Pierre Gasly, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo. He reached fifth place behind the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with Verstappen and Norris ahead of them.

Hamilton overtook the Ferraris and made it back to the podium position with only Norris and Verstappen left to have a chance to win after Lap 55. 

Norris was not quite able to hold off Hamilton, as he had enough speed with his Drag Reduction System to get to second place at the beginning of Lap 60.

“I gave it everything and did the best we could,” Norris said. “I tried to hang on to P2 as well in the end. Lewis was definitely too quick for us.”

Hamilton only had three laps to catch up to Verstappen and potentially cap off an impressive recovery with a second consecutive win.

However, the gap to the Red Bull driver was 20 seconds and he would not get anywhere close to Verstappen for the rest of the race. The Dutchman would go on to win the Grand Prix.

Even though Verstappen won the race, he nearly spun out of the track during the beginning of the restart. He explained the difficulties of being in F1.

“We had to do a restart where I almost lost it,” Verstappen said. “It just shows you that it’s so tricky out there with cold tires even in the wet. Super easy to make a mistake in these cars.”

Hamilton congratulated Max.

“Max did a fantastic job today,” he said. “I think I had some really good pace in the rain and was catching, but just a little impatient with the backmarkers and caught me up. These mistakes happen. I’m grateful that I was back in the race and I can get back to second.”

The next race in the Formula 1 Season will be in Portugal on May 2.

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