Max Verstappen claims lapping Lewis Hamilton at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix doesn’t bring him much joy because of how slow Mercedes are. The Red Bull driver won the race in Imola and claimed lapping Hamilton, who finished 13th, at the start of lap 41 was not “anything exciting” for him.
Hamilton was shown the blue flags for Verstappen down the main pit straight as the Dutchman extended his lead over second-placed team-mate Sergio Perez on his way to a second victory of the season.
“Ouch that is going to hurt,” commented Sky Sports’ F1 commentator David Croft, with the cameras showing Christian Horner and then a very straight-faced Toto Wolff on the respective Red Bull and Mercedes pitwalls.
Hamilton and Verstappen went toe-to-toe for the title last season in an absorbing battle but this year the Briton’s Mercedes car has been well off the pace. And it’s because of that, Verstappen says, that there is not much to take from lapping the Silver Arrows.
“Mercedes has been slow all year, so for me it’s not anything exciting, it just happens,” the reigning world champion said. He added: “It was a good weekend for us, we needed it. I didn’t expect us to have a weekend like this.
“But when you have a weekend at the end like this, that’s incredible: a one-two for the team but also maximum points scored. Also the way we handled the race, we didn’t really make any mistakes. A very positive weekend.”
Hamilton, however, was rather more sombre after ending 13th. He reflected: “A weekend to forget that’s for sure. I’m out of the championship for sure. There’s no question about that. I’ll still keep working as hard as I can and try and pull it back together somehow.”
The Briton is seven in the Drivers’ Championship standings on 28 points and 58 behind leader Charles Leclerc. Verstappen by contrast is 27 points behind Ferrari’s Leclerc, who finished P6 in Imola after spinning when in third. That error allowed Verstappen to significantly cut at the championship lead that was 45 points before this race.
Red Bull team boss Horner said: “For the championship, obviously, it was important for us to take some points off Ferrari, which we’ve done in both championship tables. We’ll take that out of this weekend and then try and build on it in Miami, an all-new circuit, in a couple of weeks’ time.”
F1 returns for the fifth round of the season with the inaugural Miami Grand Prix on May 6-8.