After an excellent start to the new Formula 1 season, which has seen him finish second in the season opener at Bahrain and win the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Max Verstappen’s cemented himself as a serious title contender.
Sitting just one point behind the legendary Lewis Hamilton in the standings, the flying prodigy showed his class in Imola by getting off to a scorching start from third on the grid. Quickly jetting into first on the opening lap, Vertsappen stamped his mark and never let up on his way to cruising to an impressive 22 second win.
Although he almost lost control during the race, the Red Bull driver impressively recovered to get the job done comprehensively and claim maximum points.
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When speaking after the race, Verstappen cut a delighted figure, saying: “It’s a very long season so just have to keep on working very hard. I’m very happy about the result today but tomorrow we start again. It’s great to be fighting against Lewis and Mercedes who have been very dominant for so many years.”
His team principal, Christian Horner, was equally delighted when speaking on his young star’s efforts. “Max got a mega start and then braved it out into the first turn, and thereafter controlled the race brilliantly,” he said.
“It’s always tough to lose a race like we did in Bahrain and it’s so marginal [with Mercedes]. And so to come here and get that victory, there’s only one point between the two drivers, a huge distance in this championship still to run.
“It’s by far the best start we’ve had for quite a few years,” he added, “so we just want to keep building the momentum. But it’s fantastic for Honda, their first win since [Ayrton] Senna in ’91 here. So we just want to build that momentum and keep that all the way through the year.”
With Hamilton and Verstappen set to go toe to toe for the Championship, it will be captivating to see if Verstappen, who the bookies have priced at 2.10 to win the championship, can overcome the British star.
Only time will tell if he can, but the 23-year-old certainly appears to have the car and the skill to do so.