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Max Verstappen

Verstappen forced to tread fine line in Norris chase

Max Verstappen held on to take victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. In the final laps, Lando Norris began closing him down, but the triple-world champion managed to keep him behind.

Verstappen Imola race
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To news overview © Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen had to push "flat out" towards the end of Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, surviving a late charge by Norris to claim victory at Imola.

The McLaren began reeling in the Red Bull with just a handful of laps left to run, but could not quite get close enough in the final moments of the race.

He got within a second on the last lap, but it was too little, too late. Had the 63-lap race been slightly longer, the Briton may well have pipped the Dutchman.

He looked to be en route to a comfortable win after retaining the lead in the early stages, having started from pole position. After the round of pit stops, the 26-year-old grew the gap to Norris behind, but the McLaren driver had pace in hand towards the end.

"The whole race, I had to push flat out," Verstappen said after taking his fifth grand prix win of the season. "On the medium tyres we were quite strong. On the hard tyres [it] was a bit more difficult to manage, especially the last 10 [or] 15 laps - had no grip anymore.

"I was really sliding a lot. I saw Lando [Norris] closing in, so the last 10 laps I was just flat out, but it's very difficult when the tyres aren't working anymore... I couldn't afford to make too many mistakes. Luckily we didn't."

'We didn't have a lot of information going into the race'

Verstappen looked to be en route to a comfortable win after retaining the lead in the early stages, having started from pole position. After the round of pit stops, the 26-year-old grew the gap to Norris behind, but the McLaren driver had pace in hand towards the end.

An easy win would have perhaps been a somewhat surprising result, given the difficult weekend endured by Red Bull. Neither the team, nor Verstappen, looked comfortable on Friday and only just beat the McLarens of Norris and Oscar Piastri to pole in qualifying, after making extensive set up changes overnight before Saturday.

That left the Milton Keynes squad short of data, something Verstappen felt contributed to the difficult grand prix.

"We changed a lot on the car," Verstappen explained. "Of course, we didn't have a lot of information going into the race. 

"Maybe that's why on the hard tyres it was a bit more difficult for us, but I think from where we started the weekend to now we can be incredibly pleased with the pole and the wins, so I will take that"

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, Ian Parkes, Samuel Coop and Nick Golding look ahead at this weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. The trio discuss last season's cancelled race at Imola, whether McLaren's Miami pace is genuine and if Mercedes teenage sensation Andrea Kimi Antonelli will make his debut before he turns 18.

Want to watch the podcast instead of just listening? Check it out here.

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