IMOLA (Agencies): Max Verstappen won a dramatic Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday after world champion Lewis Hamilton hit a wall in a race that was also temporarily suspended following a separate incident involving Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The 23-year-old Verstappen led for the majority of the race on the wet Imola track and the Red Bull driver beat Hamilton by 22 seconds for the 11th win of his career.
Hamilton, who won the season-opening Bahrain GP last month, showed all his skills to make his way back up the field after falling as far back as ninth following an incident just before the halfway point of the race.
The 36-year-old Hamilton is still ahead of Verstappen in the standings after he picked up a bonus point for the fastest lap in Imola. Bottas had the fastest lap in Bahrain. Lando Norris was third, 23.702 behind Verstappen.
“Congratulations to Max, he did a fantastic job today. Also to Lando, what an awesome job,” Hamilton said. “On my side it was not the greatest of days, first time I made a mistake in a long time, but I’m grateful to have been able to bring the car home.”
Verstappen started third, behind Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and pole-sitter Hamilton. The Dutch driver got off to a great start and jumped his teammate before touching wheels with Hamilton and forcing his way into the lead.
Hamilton damaged his front wing in that incident but was running a comfortable second until he slid off the track, through the gravel and into the wall on lap 31. The British driver managed to return to the track eventually but had dropped to ninth.
A short time later, Bottas and Williams driver George Russell were involved in a crash — which will be investigated after the finish — and the race was red-flagged on lap 34 with debris from their cars scattered across the track.
Both drivers were furious in the aftermath with Bottas flicking his middle finger at Russell, who responded by swatting the Finnish driver with his hand.
The safety car first appeared while Nicholas Latifi’s Williams was recovered after a crash on the second lap following contact with Nikita Mazepin. Perez slid off the track and was handed a 10-second penalty for overtaking under the safety car, when he retook the places he lost.