IMOLA, April 24: World champion Max Verstappen rekindled his title defence on Sunday with an accomplished victory ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez in a dominant one-two triumph for Red Bull at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
In a rain-affected race, the pole-sitting 24-year-old Dutchman came home more than 16 seconds ahead of his team-mate as Charles Leclerc and Ferrari endured a disappointing day in front of passionate home support at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
Leclerc, who started second on the grid, finished sixth after making a poor start and spinning in the closing laps while running third, allowing Lando Norris to take the final podium place for McLaren.
George Russell produced a stirring drive for Mercedes to come home fourth after starting 11th, fending off Valtteri Bottas’s Alfa Romeo at the finish, while team-mate and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton finished a distant 14th.
It was Verstappen’s second win this season after Saudi Arabia, which has also included two retirements, and the 22nd of his career.
He reeled off a grand slam weekend with pole position, victory and fastest lap as well as victory in Saturday’s sprint race.
He moved up to second in the title race behind Leclerc, reducing his deficit from 45 points to 27 to set up the prospect of an intense duel this year.
“Today, you never know with the weather how competitive you are going to be but I think we did very well and this one-two is very deserved,” said Verstappen.
“The start was very important but afterwards, judging the conditions and when to swap to the slick tyres, because in the lead you have to always dictate the pace.” (AFP)