Verstappen pips Norris to Emilia Romagna GP win
May 21, 2024

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Verstappen and Norris shared the frontrow at the race start. The pair launched off the line when the lights went outwith relatively equal getaways, but Verstappen will feel fortunate that thefirst corner was on his side of the track. His Red Bull headed through theTamburello chicane unopposed, with Norris filtering in just behind ahead of thetwo Ferraris cheered on by a hopeful home crowd.

The opening laps were uneventful asall drivers kept out of trouble. A bit of wheel-banging between Lance Strolland Esteban Ocon at the Tosa hairpin gave the most drama on Lap 1, but bothdrivers continued unscathed. The cars settled into a long DRS train asVerstappen led Norris, who kept Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz behind forMcLaren teammate Oscar Piastri to chase.

The Grand Prix's first drama unfolded whenunusually early pit stops came for the lower midfield teams. As the bottom 10drivers tried to force their rivals into early pit stops by switching fromPirelli's medium compound tyre to hards, disaster struck Williams' Alex Albon.A loose wheel left the Anglo-Thai driver trundling around the circuit as heattempted to limp back to the pits following a mistake from his pit crew.

Verstappen pips Norris to Emilia Romagna GP win

Albon reached the pits again aftersome clever driving that kept him out of his competitors' path. He emerged alap down on the entire field and eventually became the race's sole retirement.A poor thank you to the man who just committed his medium-term future toWilliams with a multi-year contract extension.

Without a Safety Car to intervene inthe Albon situation, the frontrunners ran their standard strategies by takingtheir medium tyres as long into the race as they dared before trying theundercut. McLaren became the first team to roll the dice, bringing Norris andPiastri in to try and advance their Brit past Verstappen and Australian pastthe Ferraris.

That plan didn't work out for Norris,who emerged in the path of second Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, who had justtaken a trip through the gravel on a contrary strategy. He swiftly swept Perezaside, but the hold-up meant Verstappen wasn't under any threat.

However, Ferrari waited too long to pull theirduo into the pit lane, letting Piastri leapfrog Sainz to take P4. With theavailable Pirelli compounds, the race would exclusively see one-stopstrategies. Sainz fell to P5 and would not recover the lost place in afrustrating day for the Spaniard.

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Verstappen pips Norris to Emilia Romagna GP win

There was still plenty of life in theother Ferrari vs McLaren duel. Leclerc was hanging onto Norris' rear wing andkept the young British driver checking his mirrors as the race approached itsclosing chapter. Although he never got close enough to attack, frustrated radiomessages from Norris suggested he felt the pressure of the Prancing Horse.Leclerc, however, had pushed too much at the Variante Alta chicane, cuttingacross the grass and ending his charge to settle for P3.

With Leclerc not troubling hismirrors, Norris used his remaining Pirelli grip to close a five-second gap toVerstappen. To add additional drama to the final laps, Verstappen had used uphis track limits warnings, meaning he'd receive a five-second time penaltyshould his defensive driving go too far. Norris was in hot pursuit, closingdown the deficit by a second every few laps until he reached the edge of DRS.His pace meant it came to a last-lap showdown.

Sadly, there wasn't a wheel-to-wheelshowdown to decide the victor, as the kilometres ran out for Norris to mount anattack. Verstappen had won – barely. His fifth 2024 triumph came with just a0.725s margin, and he'll know that he must now fight for the championship withMcLaren closing in. Any Red Bull retaliation to fend off the classic Britishteam must come soon, as the Monaco GP comes this weekend.

Verstappen pips Norris to Emilia Romagna GP win
Verstappen pips Norris to Emilia Romagna GP win