Watching Max Verstappen drive right now is a blast. To Lewis Hamilton, a delight. The Red Bull Dutchman is only 23 years old, but despite that he already accumulates a good backpack full of stories that one day, in a long time, he will be able to compile in several volumes or tell whoever he wants. If all goes well, a chapter will be reserved for the brawl that he maintains with Hamilton for the baton of a World Cup very different from the last ones; with Mercedes more vulnerable and with the red buffalo stampeding. If to the tremendous performance of the RB16B we add the sublime state of form of Verstappen, one would dare to say that the fight for the title is served. There is no better news than that for a fan that has long been demanding alternatives to the brutal superiority of the Silver Arrows, which have accumulated seven consecutive doublets since hybrid technology was introduced in the contest in 2014.
Mad max He left Imola reinforced, a stage with a pedigree that housed a grand prize turned into a real nonsense by the rain. There were horrifying accidents, such as the one involving Valtteri Bottas and George Russell, which forced the stewards to neutralize the event shortly before reaching its equator. And unexpected track starts such as Hamilton’s (lap 31), while the Briton circulated on fire and in pursuit of the Hasselt boy: he left the line, stepped on the wet area and goodbye. A difficult stumble to see in the seven-time world champion, who did not tire of apologizing to his team through the radio before redeeming himself with one of those house brand comebacks that took him to second place. Lando Norris, brilliant throughout the weekend at the wheel of a revitalized McLaren, completed a podium that the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc (fourth) and Carlos Sainz (fifth) did not climb by a hair. Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, finished eleventh, far from the hot zone.
Verstappen did everything well, both in the first start – he overtook Checo Pérez and Hamilton to face the first corner at the front of the pack – and in the second, behind the safety car. Between Red Bull and the races themselves – it has more than 120 – they have been in charge of polishing this diamond that now not only hides a devilish speed, the same as always, but also the pause that was missing. On a battlefield with traps at every turn, the star ship of the energy structure exhibited a level of reliability that even Hamilton could not achieve, even though the pilot from Stevenage (Great Britain) minimized the damage with a brutal display of power. .
At the restart, the Mercedes driver moved into ninth, and in 27 laps he ate seven of the eight cars ahead. On a Sunday of those in which everything goes wrong, the spearhead of the star brand managed to maintain the leadership of the general table thanks to the fastest lap that was awarded with only three laps to go, one more test of the degree of competitiveness of this runner who, if he accumulates another crown (the eighth), will undoubtedly become the best of all time. “When I got off the track I just tried to get over that heartbreaking feeling you get when you make a mistake. It is the first I have done in a long time, but I am proud to have been able to return the car home “, declared Hamilton in his most self-critical version, a facet that Verstappen has not yet seen, with whom he will again face short very soon, in two weeks, on the roller coaster in Portimão.