Max Verstappen dominated the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on his way to his first victory of the season, the Red Bull driver overtaking polesitter Sir Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 and never looking back as he went on to win by a margin of 22 seconds over the world champion.
At one point it looked like Hamilton would be nowhere near the podium, after a slide into the gravel while passing markers saw him tumbling down the order.
The Mercedes driver was given a reprieve when his teammate Valtteri Bottas crashed with the Williams of George Russell, allowing him to unlap himself under the subsequent red flag. And Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in a column ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix this weekend the champion had luck on his side in Italy.
"It has to be said that Lewis was extremely fortunate, a sentiment I’m sure he would echo. The red flag, which was caused by his teammate, allowed him to un-lap himself after his own accident when he would have been effectively out of the race for a podium finish," he said.
"But it was a very strong comeback drive by him and Mercedes once again showed great race pace, so you can see there is not a lot in it at the moment."
Horner added that Hamilton's recovery showed just how hard it will be to unseat the champions, with the two teams so close in qualifying and on Sunday in the first two races of the season.
"We will try and put as much pressure on Lewis in his title defence as we possibly can. He made a fundamental error when he went off which is easy to do in those conditions but after Max's victory, he still leads the championship thanks to the single point he won for setting the fastest lap in the race.
"So, if the next 21 races are as exciting as the first two, then it is going to be an epic season."