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Rosberg praises key Verstappen trait that has blown title fight 'wide open'

Max Verstappen added to his F1 accolades at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix by completed his second career Grand Slam, and Nico Rosberg has praised the Red Bull driver for keeping the World Championship fight alive.

Nico Rosberg has praised Max Verstappen for "nailing it when it counted" during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend, as he closed the gap to championship leader Charles Leclerc. Verstappen was dominant at Imola and, partly thanks to the eight points he picked up during the Sprint, left the track on Sunday having leapt from sixth to second in the Drivers' standings. His solid weekend saw him pocket the highest points total (34) a driver has scored at a single event since double points were offered at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, breathing fresh life into the Dutchman's title defence. As a result, Rosberg believes that Verstappen has blown the championship fight "wide open" ahead of the upcoming Miami Grand Prix.

Rosberg: It's all about Verstappen

Verstappen made history at Imola as he completed his second Grand Slam, joining an elite list of F1 greats to have done the same. This means that he not only took pole position and the race victory, but also led every lap and claimed the fastest lap of the Grand Prix. It came on a weekend that saw Red Bull take risks by implementing upgrades, despite the limited time to trial them ahead of qualifying. "It looks like Red Bull have really made progress with their reliability and sorted the issues. And then, really, it's again about Max Verstappen," said Rosberg, speaking to Sky Sports F1 . "The whole weekend, [he was] just nailing it whenever it counted. He was just in a league of his own; an unbelievable job by him, and really putting the marker down and saying: 'Hey, I'm not out of this championship yet. I'm back right in there.'"

Rosberg enthused to see Red Bull back in the fight

It wasn't all about Verstappen at Imola, however, with teammate Sergio Perez finishing third in the Sprint and second on race day, meaning that Red Bull scored 58 of the maximum 59 points on offer. This performance has also swung the pendulum of momentum back in the team's favour, after the previous race weekend in Australia was dominated by Ferrari's Leclerc. "[Verstappen] is now just 27 points away from Leclerc, so the championship is once again wide open, which is awesome for us to see," continued Rosberg. "Red Bull are really on a level playing field as well, in terms of car pace, at least with Ferrari. It's completely open, which is just awesome."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix - Qualifying