Max Verstappen won a wet-dry thriller in Imola overnight while Lewis Hamilton recovered from an off into the barriers to finish second.
The Dutchman crossed the line over 20 seconds clear of Hamilton to level the winning tally at 1-1 with his rival.
“It was very challenging out there, especially in the beginning,” Verstappen said.
“It was very hard to stay on track, to be honest; it was very slippery. And then of course, with the tyres degrading in the wet and then choosing the right moment to go onto slicks is never easy.
“I think we managed everything well, then a little moment in my restart, but everything else went really well today, so of course, very happy with that.”
Lando Norris made a move on Charles Leclerc following a red flag to claim his second career podium.
Hamilton started on pole for the 99th time in his career. However, it was Verstappen who got the best start of anyone on the slippery surface.
The Red Bull driver rocketed from third to the lead by turn one, muscling past Hamilton in the process.
Verstappen’s teammate Perez fell back into third. However, Perez’s race would quickly unfold. He received a time penalty for overtaking during a safety car period before multiple spins saw him finish outside the points.
A hefty crash by Nicholas Latifi brought out the race’s first safety car. On the restart, Hamilton looked to have the upper hand on Verstappen.
But the Red Bull cunningly placed himself on the ideal racing line to maintain the lead at turn one. Leclerc was right behind in third after getting past Perez.
The race was now to change from the intermediate to slick tyres. Though no one was overly eager to be the first to experiment with dry rubber, given the risk of slipping off the circuit.
However, Verstappen was the first to pit, fitting the medium tyres to run till the end of the race.
Hamilton responded a lap later but was sat in the pitlane for nearly five seconds as the Mercedes crew wrestled with a stubborn wheel.
Pushing hard to make up ground, Hamilton would then run wide at turn seven, drive through the gravel trap and make light contact with the wall.
“There was only one dry line,” Hamilton said. “And I guess [I was] in a bit too much of a hurry to get by everyone.
“I came into the inside and I could see it was wet and I was trying to stop but the thing wouldn’t stop and it sent me off.”
The defending champion managed to find reverse gear and return to the track. Though all proceedings were halted as a crash between George Russell and Valtteri Bottas brought out the red flag.
Russell was overtaking the Mercedes but pitched himself into a half spin when he touched the wet grass. He collected the sidepod of Bottas, and the two careened straight into the looming sand trap.
Verstappen led Norris with Leclerc in tow on the restart, though Hamilton was scything through the pack from eighth.
He was on the podium by lap 55, and with three remaining, he stole second from Norris.
However, Verstappen had driven a flawless second half of the race and was 22 seconds clear of Hamilton by the chequered flag.
Championship wise, Hamilton is one point ahead of Verstappen, courtesy of a fastest lap point.
The next round of the world championship will be the Portuguese Grand Prix on May 9.
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