THIS RACE WAS INSANE! We F1 fans got what we deserved after waiting 3 weeks for racing after the Bahrain GP. The 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was absolutely bonkers, in a great way. We’ve got so much to unpack, so much to analyse. F1 is finally as close, as exciting, and as fiercely competitive as we love it to be.
The weather was a key feature of this race. The race was a wet-dry race, and the wet weather brought mistakes, spins and crashes. Latifi and Mazepin crashed early on in the race. Latifi ran wide and rejoined the track just ahead of Mazepin. Mazepin was side-by-side with Latifi, but Latifi couldn’t see Mazepin. Latifi tried to go back on the racing line, and in doing so, he made contact with Mazepin and crashed out of the race. This caused a Safety Car, which most thought wouldn’t happen due to the low probability of Safety Cars in Imola.
The main highlight crash of this race was the controversial crash of George Russell and Valtteri Bottas. This crash was a massive crash at the end of the main straight, and there was so much debris that the Race was Red-Flagged, meaning it was stopped. The FIA deemed that there was too much debris for the Safety Car to be enough. The marshals needed a proper Red Flag to clean it up.
In the end, Max Verstappen achieved redemption from losing the win in Bahrain when he won the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. He pulled off an absolute masterclass, after taking the lead at the start and maintaining it for the rest of the race. Even though he was far behind Verstappen, Hamilton pulled off an excellent comeback. We thought his race was over after he crashed in the middle of the race. But he persevered, and he fought back to take a brilliant 2nd place.
Lando Norris did McLaren proud as he got his 2nd podium in F1 at this race. After a disappointing qualifying, Norris executed a fabulous race, which earned him a podium, and Driver of the Day. He certainly deserves it after a fantastic drive from P7 to P3 in an incredibly tricky and chaotic race. It’s great to see a McLaren on the podium, and I’m proud of myself for predicting that the midfield has caught up to the top dogs in my post about what to watch for in the Imola GP. This prediction was also proven by Ferrari. Ferrari had a great home Grand Prix, with their cars finishing 4th and 5th. Charles Leclerc could’ve achieved a podium, but had to settle for P4. Carlos Sainz finished in P5 after a fantastic race after qualifying in a shocking P11.
In the first section of this Race Review, we’re going to look at how Verstappen nailed the start and how he won the race. That start was crucial and gave him the lead of the race. We’re going to look at how Hamilton and Mercedes encountered problems that lost Hamilton the win. We’re also going to look at how the Mercedes–Red Bull battle progressed in this race, and what to look out for in the next race. And finally, we will look at the controversial crash between Bottas and Russell to end off the post.
How Max Verstappen Won The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
The Emilia-Romagna GP may look like a smooth ride for Max Verstappen. It may look like it was very easy. After he nailed the start, all he did was maintain that lead. Because of the tough conditions, Hamilton couldn’t get close enough to make a move. That’s what happened, which may give you the impression that Verstappen could relax and take this win easily. In truth, this GP was REALLY difficult for all of the drivers, Verstappen included. It’s no walk in the park to manage your tires, manage your pace, and stay out of trouble when so many things are happening around you. The weather was changing, traffic was coming in the way, crashes were happening. It’s very tough to keep your cool and bring home the win.
What’s even more difficult is to pull off an excellent start as Verstappen did. Verstappen, like the other drivers, started in 2nd gear rather than 1st, because that gives better traction off the line. And unlike Hamilton, Verstappen didn’t have a minor stall, and he didn’t lose any time. His car just launched off the line, and then Verstappen could accelerate.
Since Verstappen started in P3 and started behind both Hamilton and Perez, Verstappen went to the absolute edge of the track to get past them both without making contact, and he did that. However, that wasn’t all. Hamilton was still side-by-side with Verstappen through Turn 1 and into the Tamburello chicane. Verstappen REALLY wanted to win the race, he wanted redemption for losing out at Bahrain. So he went side by side with Hamilton into Turn 2, and into the chicane, but at the 2nd corner of the chicane, Verstappen hung onto the racing line, and gently, and legally, squeezed Hamilton out, and secured the position.
After that, Verstappen did some excellent driving, and Red Bull really got the strategy right. A good sign for Verstappen’s driving was when he nearly spun before the final corner at the Red Flag restart (more on that Red Flag later). He just lost the rear end, and he braked and released the brakes at the perfect time. The car easily went back on track, avoided the grass, and Verstappen didn’t lose his position. Although Hamilton finished in 2nd at the end of the race, Verstappen was a massive 20 seconds ahead. And Hamilton was barely ahead of the McLaren of Lando Norris. So let’s look at what happened with Hamilton in the race, and why Mercedes’ struggles just got more real.
Why Hamilton Lost Out On Winning The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – But Still, Put Up a Fantastic Performace
For the first few laps of the race, it was not good for Hamilton. Mercedes have had a major problem that people don’t see clearly unless they really analyse Mercedes’ performance. This problem is why Bottas had a dismal qualifying and a reason why Hamilton couldn’t win the race. As you may know, last year, Mercedes had the innovative Dual-Axis Steering (DAS) system on their car. This system allowed the drivers to heat up their tires more easily. But the FIA decided to ban DAS from 2021 onwards, meaning Mercedes don’t have that tool anymore. At Imola, Mercedes really struggled with warming up their tires. In FP1, FP2 and Q1, Bottas was fastest because he had plenty of time to warm up his tires. But in Q2 and Q3, the time reduced, so Bottas couldn’t warm up his tires enough over one out lap, and he had bad lap times.
Come to the race, the situation is even more grave, because we’re in rainy conditions, and these conditions make it even harder to warm up the tires. Since Hamilton lost out on the start, he just couldn’t stay with Verstappen, who was gaining almost a second every lap until Lap 11, when Hamilton finally got his tires working. Of course, we have to take into consideration that the Safety Car from Latifi and Mazepin’s crash made it even worse for Hamilton because it gave more opportunity for the tires to go cold. The only time when these problems turned into strengths for Hamilton is when the rain stopped. The track started to dry, which wore the intermediate tires a lot more. This was a problem for Verstappen, while Hamilton could now gain time since Hamilton’s tires did not wear out much during the times when they weren’t heating up.
On top of that, Hamilton’s tires were sticking onto his brakes, so his pitstop was slow. And to make matters worse, Hamilton went off track and broke his front wing on the barrier. This was just before Bottas and Russell crashed, and the Red Flag came out. So before the Red Flag, and after Hamilton’s mistake, Hamilton was a lap down, running in P9, and far away from any reasonable points.
But the Red Flag proved to be great for Hamilton because he could un-lap himself, and he could overtake everyone because the field was bunched up. This was a fantastic recovery drive to 2nd place, and the win was the only thing that Hamilton couldn’t get. This was because Verstappen had waltzed away with the perfect strategy and on-point pace.
So when Hamilton finished the race in P2, it wasn’t exactly what Mercedes were hoping for when they came into this race. Nevertheless, Hamilton executed a stunning and impressive recovery drive to finish in P2, so it was still a fantastic race for him.
How The Mercedes-Red Bull Battle Has Progressed – And What We Can Expect In Portugal
The fight is on. If the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix proved anything, it proved that F1 is highly unpredictable and that anything can happen in this Mercedes-Red Bull championship battle. This also means that it is very difficult to make a clear picture of what’s going to happen in the next race. But let’s see what we can take away from this race, and how this battle progressed in this race.
So Hamilton and Verstappen yet again out-performed their teammates. Bottas struggled in quali and crashed out in the race, marking an overall forgettable weekend for him. Verstappen’s teammate Perez was actually looking to beat Verstappen and possibly beat Hamilton to the win. But Verstappen charged up the inside to take the lead, and although Perez held P3 for a few laps, Charles Leclerc in the Ferrari overtook him for P4. To make matters worse, Perez ran wide at the exit of Turn 10 under the Safety Car. Gasly and Norris passed Perez, but Perez re-overtook them to get back to his position. Since overtaking under the Safety Car is illegal, Perez had a 10-second time penalty.
That penalty didn’t matter much, because, on Lap 38, Perez spun at the Villeneuve chicane, and lost 10 positions as he rejoined the track from the gravel trap. It was overall a dismal race for the teammates of the 2 championship contenders, which could be a big thing for this battle between the teams. When will Bottas and Perez get to grips with their cars, and which team will be victorious if they don’t get to grips with their cars?
If Bottas and Perez get their game on in Portugal, and if Verstappen and Hamilton continue to battle so closely, then this fight will be absolutely incredible. If Bottas and Perez struggle, then it’s all dependent on who wins the next race and who scores more points. The image above shows how Hamilton is currently ahead of Verstappen. It also shows how Mercedes are still ahead of Red Bull. Although Mercedes won in Bahrain, Red Bull caught up quick in Imola. If Mercedes still have their tire temp problems in Portugal, then Red Bull can gain an advantage. There are a lot of ifs and buts, which makes this season of Formula 1 even more exciting!
Bottas and Russell’s Crash – What Happened And Who’s At Fault
WHAT A CONTROVERSIAL CRASH!! As a fan, you love to see this drama and controversy in a race, and now I’m going to take a deep dive into this incident that was one of, if not the main highlight of the chaotic Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
No driver can be perfect in the tricky conditions that the Imola GP had. Everyone made at least one mistake. Verstappen nearly spun, Latifi and Mazepin crashed, Perez spun, Hamilton crashed. Alonso and Leclerc had incidents before the race even started. It proved that even the greatest and most experienced drivers can make mistakes in these conditions. This is why I believe that the Bottas-Russell incident was a racing incident, in the sense that both of them made mistakes, and that this is how racing is. It’s not that one driver did something ridiculous and should take the blame.
What happened in the crash was, George Russell was trying to overtake Valtteri Bottas for P9. Russell had DRS and a lot more speed than Bottas. As Russell pulled alongside Bottas to overtake him, Bottas squeezed Russell towards the edge of the track. Russell went on the wet grass while trying to make the overtake. Since Russell was going at over 300 kph when he went on the grass, the grass sent Russell into a spin. But Bottas was right next to Russell, so Russell hit Bottas while spinning. Just to be clear, my description was really slowed down, because all of this happened in less than 2 seconds. IT. WAS. UNBELIEVABLE.
Both the cars crashed into the barrier near the entry of the Tamburello chicane. Both drivers came on the radio with angry outbursts directed at each other. Their cars were severely damaged, since they crashed into each other at speeds of over 300 kilometres per hour, before crashing into the barriers. Bottas blamed Russell, and Russell blamed Bottas. But the day after the race, Russell apologised for getting mad at Bottas, which showed that Russell is a very mature driver. He is hoping to clear the air and make sure that he doesn’t have a sour relationship with any other driver.
I think that both drivers made mistakes. Bottas shouldn’t have moved across the track so aggressively when the track was so narrow. Russell could’ve been more careful because Bottas did leave more than a car’s length’s space. Both drivers made mistakes, and it was a racing incident, which is why neither driver was penalized. Who do you think was at fault? Let us know in the comments below!
The 2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix was a race that we won’t forget, for it was full of excitement, crashes, weather changes and unpredictability. I certainly enjoyed watching this race and writing about it, and I hope you guys enjoyed this Race Review too! Stay safe, stay on the lookout for new posts, and enjoy F1ntastic!
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