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Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - five things we learned

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - five things we learned

F1 News

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - five things we learned

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - five things we learned

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was an action-packed festival of Formula 1 with crashes, controversy and changeable conditions.

If the Bahrain Grand Prix offered a perfect tonic to the slow winter months, the Imola follow-up ramped the action up to 11.

Max Verstappen struck back against Lewis Hamilton, the reigning champion made a rare error and then there was the Valtteri Bottas-George Russell incident.

It was all going on at Imola, so without further hesitation, here are five things we learned from a cracker of a race.

Verstappen versus Hamilton is no one-off

If there were any lingering doubts as to the title credentials of Red Bull and Max Verstappen, this grand prix laid those to rest.

After making an error on his final effort in qualifying, Verstappen was pushed back to the second row of the grid by team-mate Sergio Perez but after two corners, and one extremely ballsy move against Hamilton, the Dutchman had taken the lead.

Even before Hamilton's trip through the gravel on lap 31, Verstappen appeared to be comfortably in control, with his 22-second winning margin to the Briton underlining his performance.

With one win apiece after two races, we wait to see what chapter three in Portugal has in store.

Race for Mercedes second seat reaches boiling point

It is widely known that Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and George Russell are all out of contract at the end of this season.

It would naturally be a surprise if Hamilton did not sign a new deal for 2022, so that leaves Bottas and Russell seemingly in direct competition for the second seat.

Given the disparity between Bottas' Mercedes and Russell's Williams, the two have rarely - if ever - fought for position, but as the Finn struggled at Imola, Russell made his move.

Whilst each driver blamed the other for the resulting collision, the FIA simply declared it a racing incident.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was left thoroughly unamused by the situation and, although apportioning blame to Russell when quizzed by the media, it is likely both drivers will receive a stern talking-to from the Austrian.

McLaren and Ferrari are new old rivals

McLaren and Ferrari are two of the most successful teams in F1 history but, in recent years, both teams have endured their own difficulties.

The last time either tasted success was 2008, with Ferrari claiming the constructors' crown and Hamilton the drivers' championship for McLaren.

Rather than battling for wins, the pair now appear to lead this year's 'fight for third', with Mercedes and Red Bull battling for the title.

In each of the two races so far, Lando Norris has led the four drivers, with his Imola podium allowing McLaren to pull a slender seven-point lead over the Scuderia.

Just like the title battle itself, this fight could go the distance.

Track limits are no joke

After the Bahrain GP and the questionable application of track limits regulations, FIA race director Michael Masi issued clear directions to the teams ahead of the weekend.

These instructions were altered on Saturday morning to allow extra room for error at turn nine, Piratella, but the clarifications remained clear and there were no complaints when Norris was stripped of a time that would have seen him qualify third.

The swift action of the FIA to address the track limits issue was welcome but pressure must be kept on the governing body to ensure standards remain high at the Portuguese GP and at all future events.

AlphaTauri errors cost points...again!

AlphaTauri stole the headlines in pre-season testing, setting the second-fastest time behind Verstappen's Red Bull but the opening two races of the year have failed to land the rewards the team expected.

In Bahrain, Pierre Gasly ruined his race by making early contact with Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren and limped home 17th with Yuki Tsunoda recovering from a poor qualifying to finish ninth.

At Imola, Tusunoda dropped out of the points after spinning into the gravel and Gasly took early pain after the AlphaTauri pit wall dithered to change the Frenchman off wet tyres despite dropping eight seconds per lap to those on intermediates.

As a result, AlphaTauri has just eight points from two races and sits fifth in the table, 26 points behind fourth-placed Ferrari. They know they can do better.

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