WHAT A RACE! From the second the lights went out, the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix did not disappoint. What more could we have asked for? A wet race at Imola, I’ll take that any day…
We saw Lewis Hamilton in Pole Position, with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen in 2nd and 3rd. The race got off to a flying start, or more accurately, a sliding start! The Dutch driver was quick off the mark, taking the lead at the start of the race with his compatriot Perez holding onto third place. Slow off the line, Hamilton desperately attempted to hold onto P1 into the first corner to no avail. He was forced wide, over the chicane causing slight damage to his front wing. Fortunately for Lewis, the damage was nothing too serious and he was able to continue. The action of the first lap continued with Latifi spinning off, bringing out the safety car. Whilst the safety car was out on track, further drama unfolded when Mick Schumacher guided the Haas into the Pit Exit whilst attempting to warm his tyres.
Lap 7 and the race is back underway, little did we know that the excitement had only just begun. After 6 laps behind the safety car, the race is ready to get underway again. A tetchy restart for Verstappen nearly handed an eagle-eyed Hamilton the opportunity to regain P1. After following closely for a few further laps, Max manages to pull away from Lewis, comfortably outside of DRS range. We’ll jump ahead a bit now to the next burst of action.
Almost halfway through the race, we hit lap 27 and Max, the race leader entered the pit lane for what would be an efficient stop. He returned to the track in third place. Hamilton followed, stopping a lap later after pushing for an extra lap on his intermediate tyres, managing to bag the fastest first sector of the race so far. Entering the pits, Lewis would have been hoping for a quick stop to help gain an advantage. However, the stop was definitely on the slower side at 4 seconds due to a sticky front right. Returning him back to track 2.5 seconds behind Max. Shortly after, Perez headed into the Pit Lane to serve the 10 second time penalty that was handed to him for an earlier safety car infringement. The misfortune of the Mexican driver elevated Norris giving him the opportunity to chase down his first podium.
In a rare mistake, whilst lapping Russell, Hamilton slid off into the gravel at Tosa resulting in the loss of vital positions and thanks to the huge gap to the rest of the field, Hamilton was able to navigate his way out of the gravel to regain P7.
Then, out of nowhere; BOOM, BIG CRASH. RED FLAG! Valtteri and Russell are out of the race. Did I hear a bad word? I think I did… Whilst I understand Bottas’ frustration at the young British driver, he was attempting to overtake – heck, as Senna would have said “if you no longer go for a gap that exists you are no longer a racing driver”. We’ll put this one down as a racing incident.
When the race eventually restarted after a break of around 20 minutes, there was some debate as to whether we would see a standing start or whether the action would resume from behind the safety car. The decision was made to resume with a rolling start as track conditions were deemed to be too treacherous. Upon the restart, Verstappen almost spun off, before regaining his composure. Then, Perez went into the gravel, resulting in a drop from 4th to 15th, leaving him trailing behind the Haas of Mick Schumacher. Norris almost secured his highest position in an F1 race, before Hamilton ruined the party! That sucks, but Verstappen went on to win with an almighty 22-second lead. Damn, that is impressive!
Besides the winner of the race, the driver I would like to spotlight today is Kimi Raikonnen. In a race that has seen cars jump from the back of the grid to the front, Kimi was able to go from 16th to 9th. A pretty solid performance if you ask me. As for my blunder of the race, I’m going to have to give it to both Perez, he definitely squandered his position and paid the price.
And with that, we say goodbye to another race and what an exciting race it has been. With the Championship wide open, it is safe to say we are in for an exciting season! With only a single point separating Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, it is definitely going to be interesting to see how this season unfolds. Can Red Bull finally end Mercedes domination? I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks when we travel to Portugal. I am looking forward to another great race there because that track is mental. See you soon.