Verstappen wins Emilia Romagna GP
Red Bull Racing Honda driver, Max Verstappen, mastered wet conditions, safety cars and red flags to take a his first victory of 2021 at the end of an incident-packed Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. It is the Dutchman’s 11th Formula One win of his career.
Rain at the start led to a difficult race as the tough conditions caught out the vast majority of drivers at one time or another. Even Verstappen almost lost his win, when he half-spun at the restart following the red flag, but managed to collect the car taking the 25 points.
It was also a great qualifying session for both drivers with Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez, in only his second race for Red Bull, starting in second place edging out team-mate Max who began third.
Commenting on his win, driver Max Verstappen said: “I am of course very happy with this win for everyone in the Team and Honda. I think the key was of course the start as we had a great launch. I surprised myself as it was always hard to get off the line in the wet last year but we worked hard to try and improve that and it worked. The conditions were challenging out there, especially in the beginning and it was very hard to stay on track but we stayed out of trouble. I wouldn’t call it a dominant performance as Lewis was following me quite well and for him to come back to second after his incident means they have a lot of pace in that car. We won because we made the right calls with tyres at the right time and the Team managed everything well in these conditions. With the tyres degrading, choosing the right moment to go onto slicks wasn’t easy but we got it right. I had a little moment at the re-start trying to warm up the tyres with some throttle but luckily we didn’t spin. We still have to work hard to improve because it’s very close, but for now I’m very happy with the result. I’m looking forward to Portimão because it’s an amazing track and then we go to a track we all know well in Barcelona. We’ll see what we can do but so far, it’s been a good start to the year.”
It was also an eventful day for Checo, after suffering steering problems and a 10-second time penalty for overtaking under the safety car, the Mexican later had a spin that dropped him back and which ultimately led to a P12 finish.
Discussing his performance today, driver Sergio Perez said: “The conditions out there were really difficult today and I made quite a few mistakes that were very costly. I struggled to retain any temperature in the tyres, so I lost it under the safety car and I got a 10 second penalty. It is of course important that I get used to the car and that I learn these lessons, but I messed up, I’m very disappointed in myself and really sorry to the Team. I think at the re-start the podium was ours and the pace of the car was good today, we should have finished one and two on the podium. Let’s focus on the next race now, we will work really hard as a Team and come back stronger.”
Commenting on Verstappen’s P1 and Checo’s P12, Team Principal Christian Horner said:
“It is fantastic for us to get the victory here today, particularly after losing such a close race in Bahrain. Max drove impeccably all afternoon with no mistakes and the Team made some perfectly timed pit stop calls, making this a thoroughly deserved victory and an important one for us. Max was pumped up for the race, with a great start giving him momentum down into Turn 1 where we saw two tough drivers pushing to the limit for track position which is what everyone wants to see. Lewis was still very quick today which could be seen particularly towards the end of the race when they seemed to have very low tyre degradation. I think they maybe had a quicker car than us today but it’s great to get that first victory of the season under our belts.
“It was a real shame for Sergio after such a brilliant day yesterday and nothing went his way which is frustrating for him, but he’s becoming more and more comfortable with the car and you can guarantee that he will come back strong. Now we need to build on this momentum for the remainder of the season and we are going to have to go some way to keep Mercedes under pressure.”
The 2021 season is set to be an exciting one and we’re only two races into a 23 round race calendar. Red Bull Racing Honda now heads to Portimão for the Portuguese GP, second in the Constructors Championship.