Emilia Romagna GP
April 16 - April 18, 2021
Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari
Race Winner
Max Verstappen
Honda
2:02:34.598
2 Pits
SESSIONSRESULTTIME
Free Practice 1
BOT
1:16.564
Free Practice 2
BOT
1:15.551
Free Practice 3
VER
1:14.958
Qualifying
HAM
1:14.411
Race
VER
2:02:34.598

Verstappen wins chaotic Imola race, Hamilton second

Red Bull celebrate as Max Verstappen secures victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Red Bull celebrate as Max Verstappen secures victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Max Verstappen took his first victory of the 2021 season at a chaotic Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which saw Lewis Hamilton recover from a costly mistake midway through the race to finish second.

The Red Bull driver, who started third on a wet grid, took the lead on the opening lap of the race by barging his way past Hamilton at the Tamburello chicane. 

Verstappen then had to contend with drying track conditions, a red flag stoppage midway through and a spin just before the race restart to take victory.

Hamilton had to fight back from ninth to second in the closing stages. He picked up the bonus point on offer for fastest lap, meaning he retains the lead in the championship. 

McLaren's Lando Norris finished third, claiming the second podium of his Formula One career. Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz took the next two places ahead of Daniel Ricciardo. 

Lance Stroll finished the race seventh, but was demoted to eighth behind Pierre Gasly after the event for passing the French driver off the track during the race. Kimi Raikkonen was ninth and Esteban Ocon claimed the final points-paying position for Alpine. 

Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Despite being passed by his championship rival on the opening lap, Hamilton was within striking distance of Verstappen for the first half of the race and continued to put pressure on the Red Bull as the track dried and the field switched from intermediate tyres to slicks.

Hamilton was putting pressure on the Red Bull when they came up behind lapped cars on lap 31, but as he went to pass the Williams of George Russell at Tosa, he lost control on a wet part of the track and slid wide into the gravel.

Hamilton damaged his front wing against the wall beyond the gravel trap and lost a huge amount of time reversing his car back onto the track.

It looked as though the incident would put Hamilton a lap down and out of podium contention, but a huge accident involving his Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and Russell a lap later resulted in the race being suspended.

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas had a heated exchange after their collision at Imola.
George Russell and Valtteri Bottas had a heated exchange after their collision at Imola.
Hasan Bratic/picture alliance via Getty Images

Russell was attempting to pass Bottas for ninth place around the outside on the run to Tamburello when he put a wheel on the grass and his Williams slewed sideways and into the Mercedes. The two cars smashed into the barrier on the left before ricocheting down the track and into the barriers at Tamburello where they came to a halt in the gravel.

Both drivers were unharmed, but were clearly angry with one another as Russell walked over to Bottas's wreckage to make his feelings known to the Mercedes driver.

The red flags were shown within moments of the accident, suspending the race on lap 34 and forcing all cars back to the pits.

The race restarted under the Safety Car, but the lapped cars, including Hamilton, were allowed to unlap themselves before racing resumed.

Verstappen, who raced immaculately up to that point, lost control of his Red Bull at Rivazza just before the restart, but was able to counter the spin and resume his position in the lead before blasting onto the pit straight to resume racing.

Behind Verstappen, Lando Norris passed Charles Leclerc for second place, while Hamilton started his fightback from eighth place.

Max Verstappen forced his way past Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen forced his way past Lewis Hamilton at Turn 1 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The world champion picked off Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Leclerc in the space 20 laps to move back into third before passing Norris with three laps remaining to recover second place.

Meanwhile, Verstappen had built a 20 second lead over the rest of the pack, giving him a comfortable victory ahead of Hamilton at the chequered flag. 

Hamilton secured the fastest lap once he was in clear air, giving him a bonus point and the lead of the championship by a single point over Verstappen.