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Piastri misses podium after drama-filled finish at Imola

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19th May, 2024
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Oscar Piastri has missed out on his first visit to a Formula One race podium this season, the Australian left pondering what might have been after Max Verstappen raced to a hard-earned victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Dutch maestro Verstappen was forced to hold off Piastri’s McLaren teammate Lando Norris in a dramatic conclusion to Sunday’s race at Imola, winning by just 0.725 seconds at the chequered flag.

It must have left Piastri, who eventually finished fourth after a frustrating day trying to get past a couple of Ferraris, wondering what he could have achieved if he had been able to get a clear tilt at Verstappen.

Unfortunately for the Melburnian, he never got the chance after having to start fifth on the grid following his penalty from stewards after his brilliant second-placed finish in qualifying on Saturday.

Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren F1 Team looks on

Oscar Piastri of Australia and McLaren F1 Team. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

Piastri, who had been relegated for obstructing Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in qualifying, had been faster than Norris all weekend, yet his English teammate still nearly followed up his maiden victory in Miami with a late charge on Sunday.

“I think it’s shown we can definitely take the fight to them,” said Piastri, brushing aside any personal disappointment.

It was, however, a familiar story as Verstappen held on for his fifth victory in seven races this season, the 59th of his career and a third in a row at Imola. 

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“I had no grip anymore. I was sliding a lot. I saw Lando closing in. The last 10 laps were flat out,” said a relieved Verstappen, who had appeared set for another easy win but had to sweat ultimately for the spoils as Norris closed in.

“It’s difficult when the tyres were not working anymore and you have to go flat out. I couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes. Luckily we didn’t.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third at the Italian team’s atmospheric home track, 7.916 off the pace, but still doing enough to keep Piastri at bay.

The victory extended Verstappen’s championship lead to 48 points, with Leclerc now his closest rival after Red Bull’s Sergio Perez started 11th and finished only eighth.

Behind Piastri was Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who had held up the Australian earlier in the race, and the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, sixth and seventh.

Piastri’s Australian colleague Daniel Ricciardo, in his RB, could finish only 13th, three places behind his teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

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Norris, who had cut the gap to just 1.1 seconds going into the final lap, was left reflecting on his near-miss with the observation: “It hurts me to say but one or two more laps I think I would have had him.

“It would have been beautiful, but just not today.

“But we are at a point now where we can say we are in the position with Ferrari and Red Bull. We have to get used to it. We are fighting for first and second now.”

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