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Helmut Marko

Marko details ‘very critical’ concern that almost cost Verstappen Imola win

Max Verstappen secured his fifth grand prix win of the season last time out at Imola - however the Dutchman came under massive pressure before taking the chequered flag.

Verstappen win Imola
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Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut has opened up on the “very critical” issue that came close to denying Max Verstappen victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Verstappen looked on course for an unchallenged run to the chequered flag at Imola last weekend, having started the race from pole position.

However, in the final stages, McLaren's Lando Norris upped his pace and applied pressure to the three-time world champion.

Verstappen crossed the line just seven-tenths of a second ahead of his rival to secure his fifth win of the campaign.

The Dutchman was also forced to make sure he did not exceed track limits throughout the final laps, as one further violation would have resulted in a five-second time penalty - dropping him behind Norris in the final classification.

“Max violated the track limits a few times in the Imola race, there was a final warning and then a five-second penalty would have been due,” Marko wrote in his column for Speedweek

“That was very critical. Because the last 10 or 15 laps were the hardest for him in the grand prix, and he couldn't afford to make any more mistakes.”

Pole position was 'absolutely necessary'

Verstappen struggled with his RB20 car throughout practice, setting up a close battle for qualifying.

The 26-year-old narrowly edged out the McLaren duo to take pole position, with less than a tenth separating the top three cars.

Marko highlighted that getting to the head of the field and not falling into difficulties such as overheating was crucial to secure the race win on Sunday.

“On the plus side, the technicians managed to set up the car for qualifying in such a way that Max was able to take pole position,” he said. 

“Perhaps they worked too much on qualifying speed in this respect and less on race speed. 

“But that was absolutely necessary, because if Verstappen couldn't start from pole in Imola, this race would never have been won.”

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look back at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen and Lando Norris went head-to-head for the victory around the famous Imola Circuit as McLaren continue to pile the pressure on Red Bull!

Rather watch than listen to the podcast? Click here.

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