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F1: Verstappen Beats Norris in Tense Battle at Imola

image shows max verstappen celebrating his win next to Land Norris who came second. Norris is wiping champagne from his eyes whilst Verstappen sprays him.

Written by Fred Warner


May 20, 2024

Imola F1 Race 2024: Introduction

The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola delivered one of the most thrilling races of the season, with Max Verstappen narrowly holding off Lando Norris to claim victory by just 0.725 seconds. This intense battle kept fans on the edge of their seats in the final laps as the two drivers pushed their cars to the limit, showing to all that Max and Red Bull have a competition on their hands this season, much to the great relief of the viewers (myself very much included).

Verstappen’s season had started much like 2023, with total domination. However, having lost in Miami two weeks ago to Norris in a fair and square on-track battle, cracks are starting to show in Red Bull’s armor. The upgraded McLaren has proven to be a formidable competitor.

Imola 2024 F1 Race Overview

From the moment the lights went out, Max managed to eek out an advantage and prevent Norris being within DRS range. It looked like it was going to be another walk in the park for Max. Norris held on surprisingly well through the race, although for the most part it looked as if 2nd place was going to be his lot! As the the laps ticked down, Norris began closing the gap, setting up a nail-biting finish. In terms of strategy, McLaren delivered a great ‘in race’ strategy, bettering Ferrari with their pit strategy and effectively executing the ‘undercut’ of Piastri vs Sainz.

Lando Norris Battles for Victory

During the first stint on the Medium tyre, Verstappen seemed to have the upper hand. Norris, in the second stint on the Hard tyre initially fell back towards Leclerc, who eagerly got a taste for 2nd place. Norris seemed to find his rythm, and as Verstappen began to struggle, Norris launched a tantilising late charge to try and secure his 2nd race victory. This strategic play by Norris and McLaren almost paid off, as Norris cut into Verstappen’s lead lap after lap, leaving all viewers feeling “if only there’d been a few more laps!!” Verstappen showed why his is a 3 times world champion over the weekend, in a car that, for the first time in three years, may not be the fastest on paper, fending off and taking the pressure from Lando until the chequered flag.

Red Bull: Is their era of dominance over?

Red Bull’s dominance over the past two seasons is showing signs of faltering. Off-track controversies, including Christian Horner’s involvement in a scandal and Jos Verstappen’s public call for his departure, have added to the team’s turmoil. Long-term designer Adrian Newey’s announcement of his departure and rumors about Verstappen’s potential move to Mercedes further complicate the situation. Is Red Bull falling apart? Is their period of dominance coming to an end?

McLaren: Rising to the Challenge

McLaren’s performance at Imola underscores their growing strength. The team’s strategic decisions, particularly regarding tyre management, showcased their ability to challenge Red Bull. Norris’ second-place finish, and coming so close to victory, highlights the significant improvements made with their car upgrades. McLaren appears to have found the secret to on-track performance, positioning themselves as serious contenders this season. Instead of asking ‘will Lando ever win?’ we’re now asking ‘when will Lando win again?’.

Ferrari: Off The Pace vs Red Bull and McLaren

Ferrari looked competitive throughout the weekend, but their qualifying and race pace was not as strong as expected. Charles Leclerc’s third-place finish, despite a mid-race mistake, shows promise but also highlights areas needing improvement. Carlos Sainz’s fifth-place finish reflects Ferrari’s current position—close, but not quite at the front.

Mercedes F1: Struggling to Keep Up with Ferrari

Mercedes’ woes continued at Imola. Finishing at least 30 seconds off the race pace of the front runners, the team finds itself battling with RB and Aston Martin—far from where they aim to be. Strategic decisions, such as pitting George Russell for fresh tyres towards the end, helped fend off challenges from Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, but overall, the team is a far cry of the pre-2022 regulation changes that they’ve never managed to ‘get right’.

Midfield F1 Battles – has Yuki beaten Daniel for good?

The midfield saw its own share of excitement. Sergio Perez had a challenging race but managed to secure eighth place. Lance Stroll finished ninth for Aston Martin, and Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the points in tenth place for RB (Visa Cash App). To be fair to Yuki, he looks on fire at the moment in the RB, clearly cutting a faster figure than the very much under pressure Daniel Ricciardo. Will Daniel be getting replaced soon, or will RB let him continue on with his season?

Imola F1: Post-Race Reactions

Verstappen expressed relief at holding onto victory, acknowledging the difficulties he faced in the final laps. Norris, while disappointed to miss out on the win, was optimistic about McLaren’s progress and their potential to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull regularly. Leclerc, satisfied with a podium finish, recognised the need for further improvements but thought they could have done better, meanwhile Sainz thought that Ferrari could not, in contrast to Leclerc.

2024 F1 Championship Hotting Up

Verstappen’s victory consolidates his lead, but Norris’ performances signal a potential shift in the competitive landscape. Whilst Verstappen is still the favourite to take this years crown, Lando is looking favourite for 2nd place, and a few more wins for non Red Bull drivers will really mix up the flavour! McLaren’s resurgence and Ferrari’s ongoing efforts suggest a dynamic and unpredictable season ahead.

Imola F1 GP Conclusion

The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola was fantastic to see McLaren bringing the fight to Red Bull and making them work for victory. Whilst Ferrari are not quite there, and Mercedes seem confused as to thier role in F1 (and life), at least we are beginning to have an F1 season worth watching on our hands.


Share your thoughts on the race in the comments below. For more F1 analysis and insights, follow our blog and stay tuned for updates on the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix.

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