Perhaps this is the beginning of the title fight we all want, but the Emilia Romagna GP could be a sign of things to come.
Max Verstappen took a comfortable victory in extremely difficult and testing conditions as a rare error from Hamilton allowed the Red Bull driver to cruise to the chequered flag. An impressive drive from Lando Norris helped him secure the second podium of his career after the disappointment of Qualifying – cue the celebrations.
The race was certainly not short of excitement. Charles Leclerc’s spin on the formation lap would be a sign of things to come as most drivers started the race on intermediate tyres. On the first lap Verstappen took control jumping both his teammate, Sergio Perez, and Lewis Hamilton remaining unchallenged throughout the race allowing the Dutchman to take home his first Grand Prix win in Italy.
Sergio Perez had a disaster of a race, first receiving a 10 second penalty for overtaking while behind the safety car – following a spin. Then would later end up off the track again as the Mexican driver struggled in the damp conditions which would see him finish outside the points in 11.
The race would hot up on lap 31 as Lewis Hamilton slid into the gravel looked to be out of the race. Rather fortunately he manged to reverse out of the gravel and get going, just for the race to be red flagged.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas and Williams driver George Russell collided at speed when Russell perhaps impatiently tried to race past the Mercedes car. The slippery surface caused the cars to come together at speed which would end both driver’s race. The crash would halt the race and go down as a ‘racing incident’ after F1 Stewards felt no further action was required.
Following the restart Lando Norris swiftly moved past the Ferrari of Leclerc to take second while Verstappen steamed ahead once again. Hamilton mounted a late charge for the podium places first sailing past Leclerc on lap 55 and then passing Norris is a similarly comfortable fashion with 3 laps remaining. This late charge would see Hamilton take a crucial bonus point for the fastest lap – ensuring he is one point clear of Verstappen in the championship.
The day itself belonged to Max Verstappen who cruised home taking the score to 1-1 between himself a Hamilton. There are early signed that we could be about to see the championship race fans have been crying out for. Both drivers look at the top of their game while Red Bull seem to have closed the performance gap which hampered any chances last season.
Despite this, there feels to be an inevitability about Hamilton. It is easy to forget how important luck is in winning championships and it just felt like one of those days. To recover from an error that would usually cost any meaningful points and finish second could be a sign of what is to come.
After just two races you start to get the feeling that Hamilton will become an unstoppable force once again.
Feature Image Credit: Formula 1, via Twitter: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EzRo9leVIAcSNeM?format=jpg&name=4096×4096