Christian Horner believes that Max Verstappen was on a mission to win at Imola after a disappointing qualifying, a scenario that reminded the team boss of Verstappen's resurgence at the Mexican Grand Prix in 2018.
In Mexico, the Dutchman had been outperforming then-teammate Daniel Ricciardo during practice but was furious to miss out on pole to the Australian in qualifying. Verstappen went on to channel his frustration by winning the race the next day.
A similar situation unfolded at the recent Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with Verstappen losing out in qualifying to Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez - incidentally marking the first time he had been outqualified by a teammate since Mexico 2018 - before securing an impressive victory on Sunday.
"For Max, his mindset going into the race was also a bit like Mexico 2018 and after his mistake in qualifying there was only going to be one guy coming out of turn one in front – and that was him," Horner said in his column for Red Bull.
"He had a good start in tricky damp conditions and went wheel-to-wheel with Lewis through the first corner. Placing his car perfectly on the racing line, he was able to edge ahead and from there the race was his to lose."
As well as Verstappen performing at a high level, Horner has also credited the work of the Red Bull team in securing their first win of the 2021 F1 season.
"The team timed Max’s tyre cross over perfectly, going from intermediate to slick tyres, which is always difficult when you are leading the race," the team principal explained.
"Victory is always a true team effort - great pit stops, strategy and reliability trackside plus a mammoth effort from the factory behind the scenes."
Verstappen and the team will be hoping that their recent good form continues at the third race of the season in Portugal.