2024 Emilia Romagna – Imola Grand Prix (Team Talk)

It looked liked it would be a strong weekend for McLaren and Ferrari with Red Bull on the back foot however as the weekend progressed, we saw Max Verstappen getting stronger and with a tow from Nico Hulkenberg in Qualifying – he took pole.

From there, it was a race that saw Max Verstappen battling to keep the McLaren of Lando Norris away – especially during the latter parts of the race.

Closing the gap, Lando Norris needed one, maybe two laps and he would have taken the lead for the Imola Grand Prix.

We can take a look at what the teams and drivers had to say after the race – as we now head to the most glamorous race of the season, the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix.

(If you missed it, take a look at this Senna and Ratzenberger tribute from Sebastian Vettal at Imola.)

Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen won the Emilia-Romagna Grand prix from pole, but it wasn’t a serene, easy victory for the Dutchman.

Building a 7.5 second lead after the only pit stop period in what looked a dominant display.

As the race progressed, he couldn’t hold onto his tyres during the later part of the race which allowed Norris (McLaren) to close the gap to within a second.

Verstappen just managed to hold onto the win by the skin of his teeth! As for Perez, he started on the hards from P11 and ran a very long first stint which helped him jump up the order.

Max Verstappen – 1st

“It was a close race today. I didn’t expect that the car would have that kind of pace at the beginning, which was nice and we were strong on the medium tyres. When we swapped to the hard tyres, it was a bit trickier to drive and more of a struggle to bring it to the end as tyres fell out of the operating window and we had really low grip.”

“During the last ten laps I was really trying to survive on the tyres and managed to keep Lando behind, but it required a lot of focus as we were on the limit with the penalty. However, we managed to work through and take the win; I was definitely counting down the laps until the end and it was a great feeling when we took the chequered flag!”

“If you look at where we were at the beginning of the weekend, this was an extremely good result. There is a bit of work to do and things to analyse but we are looking forward to Monaco.”

Sergio Perez – 8th

“We knew it was going to be a hard day today as the whole weekend was compromised from qualifying. Imola is a difficult track to overtake on so this was the maximum we could do today, especially we were struggling with traffic in the beginning on my first stint and on the hard tyres we had no margin to play around with the balance.”

“We knew that McLaren were the fastest but Max had one of the best weekends I’ve seen from him in awhile, so a lot of praise for that and this was a great result for us. We have a few things we need to analyse and certainly some work to do as we head into the next race, but I’m looking forward to Monaco and hopefully we will continue our strong season and get some good momentum back.”

Christian Horner – Team Principal

“It was a race of two halves for us today.”

“The first half was really strong and we built a good buffer, but the second half Lando started to catch us very quickly. Max couldn’t afford to put a millimetre wrong with track limits and the pressure of Lando behind, so a great job by Max.”

“It’s very satisfying to win a race like that when you have been pushed so hard. After qualifying, we ran the reverse strategy for Checo and the result was probably the best we could’ve got in a straight race like we had with no safety cars.”

“McLaren and Ferrari were very quick and it’s going to be a really tight fight with both teams, especially as the cars are converging which is what naturally happens when you have stable rules.”

“Overall, it was a weekend to remember in Imola and the whole team is looking forward to going again next weekend in Monte Carlo.”


Piastri’s race was a frustrating one – being bottled up behind Carlos Sainz in the early stages, he lost too much time behind the Ferrari to get into the podium fight.

Pitting early to undercut his rival, Piastri was clearly quick but ran out of tyres to chase down Leclerc for that P3 slot.

As for Norris, second seemed assured when Verstappen drove off into the distance and the McLaren man started to turn his attention to defence with Leclerc closing in.

During the latter stages of the race, his tyres came back to him and Norris was able to eat into the Dutchman’s lead, giving it everything to catch back up and falling agonisingly short at the flag.

Lando Norris – 2nd

“Another great weekend for the team. I fought hard right until the very last lap but we just lost out a little bit too much to Max in the beginning. One or two more laps and it would have been beautiful – but just wasn’t meant to be today.”

“We’ve been competitive all weekend and I think we’re at the point where we’re able to fight Ferrari and Red Bull consistently.”

“We must get used to that – the team is doing a very good job so it’s great that fighting at the front is now business-as-usual. We just need to keep focused on improving. It’s still a surprise to say it’s frustrating to not win, but after last weekend and the improvements we made, it’s what we should start to expect.”

Oscar Piastri – 4th

“P4, a good day and I think that’s the most we could have done. I just got stuck behind Sainz for the first stint but the team made a great strategy call and we managed to overtake by pitting.”

“This weekend proves how far the team have come and we’re confident we can keep taking the fight to the front. However today, track position was so important, so I am happy with our work.”

Andrea Stella – Team Principal

“A positive day at Imola and the first time in 2024 McLaren have emerged as the highest-scoring team. P4 for Oscar came from good strategy and good pace, allowing him to gain a place on a day when it was not easy to. P2 for Lando was a very strong result. It was a surprise to be in contention for the victory at the end of the race. It came about as a consequence of how sensitive the tyres were today. In the first stint, Max did a better job of managing the Medium and after the stops, Lando did a very good job of managing the Hard, resisting the temptation to overdo it when Leclerc was catching up. It paid off at the end with strong pace and being in the hunt for the victory.

“Everyone at McLaren has worked very hard to make these results possible, and they have my thanks for the upgrades that have arrived over the last few weeks, but also for the commitment, the hard work, and the quality of that work. We need to keep improving the car. If we can do that, we’re going to be in a good position for the future.”


Starting on the second row, both Ferrari cars were duelling off the line before they settled into a rhythm.

Carlos Sainz was holding Piastri at bay in the early stages but was undercut by the McLaren in the pit stops and thus had to settle for fifth.

Leclerc briefly challenged Norris for P2 early in the second stint, but he ran over the chicane and that seemed to take some life out of his tyres. He still finished in third, in front of a very passionate Italian crowd.

Charles Leclerc – 3rd

“Today’s race went well and we got even closer to our rivals. If we had qualified higher up, we could have presented our fans with an even better result.”

After changing on to the Hard tyres I had great pace and managed to make up ground on Lando (Norris) and Max (Verstappen,) but in the end the McLaren was quicker than us, although not by much.”

“Overall, there are plenty of positives to take away from this race: the upgrades worked as expected and we are more competitive. We must continue to work to close the gap, which although small, still separates us from the race winner.

“Obviously, we dedicate this result and our performance to the tifosi who are the best fans in the world and they always support us come what may. I’m sure we’ll soon be able to pay them back with a win.”

Carlos Sainz – 5th

“I cannot be happy after what was a tough race for me. I need to review it with the team to understand why I’ve not been comfortable with the car both in qualifying and today pace-wise.”

“We will regroup tomorrow to start preparing for Monaco and hopefully we can get a better result there. The fight at the top is starting to get tight and we need to continue pushing.”

Fred Vasseur – Team Principal

“First of all I would like to thank all the Tifosi as it was very special to see them under the podium after the race.”

“They brought us a lot of energy this week. Overall, it was a good weekend beyond the performance on track.”

“Today we brought home the best result we could, as it is very difficult to overtake here. When we were pushing we were able to close the gap, but we had to be careful about overheating the tyres and we did not have enough pace difference to overtake.

“Unfortunately, the outcome of the Grand Prix was very much connected to yesterday’s qualifying and we need to do a better job in the next races as we can now see that our competitiveness in the race itself has really improved.”

“I think today’s race was also a very good advert for Formula 1 as we saw three teams in seven seconds after more than 60 laps, which means the gaps are less than one tenth per lap.

“We are definitely on the pace now and we can fight for the top spot, even if we still need to make a small step forward.”


Hamilton made up a place off the line to run seventh – just behind his team mate. They dropped off the back of the top five early on, but always seemed to have the pace to keep the rest at bay.

Hamilton ran wide through the gravel in one hairy moment, but the two seemed destined to hold station until Russell complained about his tyres late on.

That led to a second pit stop which dropped him behind Hamilton, but he did at least pick up the bonus point for fastest lap.

Lewis Hamilton – 6th

“My race was generally good. I had one moment which cost me about five seconds, but my race pace was generally strong so I’m happy with how it went.”

“I made a good start and that was important to get past Tsunoda. From there, I was able to extend my opening stint and that helped me make the one-stop strategy work.”

“We’ve taken a small step forward this weekend and we have improved.”

“Unfortunately, that is slightly masked by the step forward others such as McLaren and Ferrari have taken. We will keep pushing to bring more updates that can add performance. Until then, we will make sure we are scoring as many points as we can.”

George Russell – 7th

“We had some concerns over the Hard tyre being able to go to the end so made a second pit stop. Of course that means I lost a position to Lewis, but we were able to score one extra point as a team. It was quite a lonely race for us.”

“We’ve slightly closed the gap to Red Bull and extended our advantage over the midfield. However, McLaren and Ferrari have also found similar gains so we are aiming to bring more performance and bigger steps as soon as we can.”

“We’re never going to be satisfied with P6 and P7, but this is where we are at the moment.

“Everyone is super motivated and it’s very inspiring to see. Everyone at Brackley and Brixworth are working so hard to bring improvements and it’s great to see.”

“We’ve got to keep on pushing. This weekend we maximised the package we had, and we will continue to aim to do that moving forward.”

Toto Wolff – Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“It’s not possible to see it in terms of the result, but we have taken a small step forward this weekend. Our closest competitors have also done so recently, but we have closed the gap to the front a little. We still have a lot of work to do and of course, we are all frustrated finishing P6 and P7.”

“There is more to come though, and it is all about making incremental gains. These are what we need to keep delivering if we are to get ourselves in the fight with the three teams ahead of us.

“With George’s second stop, our wear forecasts showed that he may struggle to make it last to the end of the race on the Hard tyre.”

“We had the opportunity to pit and get out ahead of Perez, and therefore opted to stop him. That also enabled us to go for the fastest lap point. It cost George a place to Lewis but ultimately the team was able to score an additional point.”

Andrew Shovlin – Trackside Engineering Director

“It’s clear we have made progress this weekend, but our nearest competitors are also pushing hard. The race today confirmed that we need to continue to make these gains to be in the fight with the top-three teams. We are continuing to work on that, with the factory flat out on development.”

“We will look to continue to bring updates to subsequent races.”

“Today, the Grand Prix didn’t throw us any opportunities. There were no Virtual Safety Cars or Safety Cars, so as much as P6 and P7 is frustrating, it is what our pace deserved.”

“We’re not lacking any determination or effort to improve, and over the last few weeks it has been encouraging to see the efforts that every team member has put into the drive to get back to the front.”

Aston Martin

Alonso started from the pit lane on the soft tyres, after making some overnight suspension changes. He pitted early to get rid of the C5 rubber but then witnessed his brakes catching fire as he returned to the track.

He came back in twice more on a torrid day which he had admitted was more about learning than racing, and did try for fastest lap late on to deny Mercedes the bonus point – but wasn’t able to beat Russell’s time.

As for Stroll, he was racing and racing hard. He managed to go long on his mediums, and so had fresh tyres late on with which to catch and pass some rivals. He climbed into the points and came home a well deserved ninth from P13 on the grid.

Fernando Alonso – 19th

“It was a difficult day and weekend in general for us. We started from the pit lane and changed a few things on the setup of the car.”

“It meant that we could gather a lot of data which we need to analyse over the next couple of days. We opted for the Soft tyres at the start of the race and we were hoping for a Safety Car to change things up.”

“When nothing happened ahead of us, we looked to try a few different compounds out and essentially used it as a bit of a test session. We will need to regroup and put ourselves in the best position in Monaco.”

Lance Stroll – 9th

“It’s good to come away from Imola with a couple of points. We elected to extend our first stint on the Medium compounds hoping for a Safety Car, but that never came and so we had to make up positions on track.”

“That early tyre management meant I had the advantage of newer Hards towards of the end of the race, giving me the pace to pass Nico [Hülkenberg] and Yuki [Tsunoda] which was fun.”

“This weekend has been tough though. We know we’re not as competitive as we want to be, and we’ll have to push hard to find the performance we’re missing.”

Mike Krack – Team Principal

“We leave Imola with two important points following a strong drive by Lance and excellent team strategy. Lance made his one-stop race work with a long first stint, while Fernando’s early pit stop on lap eight helped draw several cars in for early stops. Lance was then able to make strong overtakes into Turn 1 on Hülkenberg and Tsunoda to secure P9. It was not easy to overtake, so it was great to watch Lance making those moves. It was always going to be difficult for Fernando to progress to the points after the difficult Qualifying, but he played the team game perfectly. The Imola weekend showed that we are still not competitive enough. Our focus is on extracting the full potential of the AMR24 for the races to come, starting next week in Monaco.”




Tsunoda dropped behind Hulkenberg at the start and was losing time stuck behind the Haas. The team made the decision to bring him in early and it paid dividends as he was able to bang in a very hot out-lap to undercut the Haas.

That was the move that enabled him to score a point on a day some of the big teams recovered back to the points. As for Ricciardo, he looked in a battle with Perez for the final point on offer, but couldn’t extract enough pace late on and dropped behind Magnussen.

Daniel Ricciardo – 13th

“I don’t think anything went wrong with the start procedure, I felt like I did everything right, but unfortunately, losing that starting place did cost us the points in the race. We’ll figure it out as a team, just because there’s a bit of a lack of consistency there and we immediately dropped out of the points.”

“Then during the race we were in a train of cars, and being there with the dirty air, it’s a weakness at the moment for us.”

“We’ll keep looking at it. I think with the clean air our pace was okay and I was doing decent times, but as soon as we got in some traffic we felt like we struggled more. That midfield we’re in it’s all about small details.”

“We work hard for the qualifying position, so it’s important to be able to consolidate it at the start of the race.”

“I think that if both Yuki and I stayed in front of Nico (Hulkenberg) at the start, we could’ve managed to stay there for the whole race, get on a little bit better with the pack and our race would have looked different.” “

“Let’s reset now, it’s been a couple of years now that I’m missing Monaco, so I’m looking ahead and I’m excited to go back there next week.”

Yuki Tsunoda – 10th

“At the end of the day, I’m happy I scored a point in front of our home crowd and people who came from the factory. I think our start slightly compromised our race because we lost a couple of positions to Nico (Hulkenberg).”

“He was fast on the straights, so we didn’t want to end up behind him which is why we pitted before him and earlier than planned.”

“It was the crucial moment of the race, and I think we managed the strategy well and responded correctly to Nico.”

“It meant we had to go long in our second stint and managing the hard tyre for the last 15 laps was challenging, but well done to the team for managing, that’s positive. The start is the main topic that we need to improve on.”

“We’re working hard to take another step forward and we’ll focus on extracting the maximum out of our package.”

“Monaco is up next and I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been working hard and performing well, and I don’t have a doubt that we will maximise our performance.”

Jody Egginton – Technical Director

“It’s nice to come away with a point from Yuki but there’s also a slight feeling of frustration as we had the pace to possibly be further up the road at the end of the race. However, we lost places with both cars off the start and that pushed us into making an earlier-than-planned stop to try and recover, meaning we had to go longer than we wanted on the second set of tyres.”

“That opened up the opportunity for Stroll to go long with less traffic and he took good advantage of this.”

“On the positive side, the car and recent updates worked well here and it’s been a fantastic effort from everyone at the factory supplying new parts, and it was good to see so many of them here with us, celebrating in the grandstands after all their hard work.”

Laurent Mekies – Team Principal

“With just 15 kilometres separating our Faenza factory from the Imola circuit, this was always going to be a special event for us; our first home race under the Visa Cash App RB banner. It was great to have so many employees from the factory here at the track, creating a sort of “Blue Army” in a special VCARB grandstand and rotating our VIP passes to get as many of them as possible into the paddock.”

“This was our way of thanking everyone in Faenza, Bicester and at Honda for their hard work, which has been giving us good results, to put us once again at the top of the midfield here in Imola. Even if today’s race leaves us a little bit disappointed, as a better start from both Yuki and Daniel would have probably created a better scenario for us, a point is a point and there are many positives to take away from the weekend.”

“Our qualifying performance proves that the upgrades we implemented in Miami are definitely bringing us performance to go on fighting for sixth position in the Championship. And now we carry that momentum forward to face the unique challenge of Monaco.”

“Daniel has been on the podium there no fewer than four times, including a win, and Yuki is currently in great form, so we will be pushing for another strong performance from the whole team.”

The Formula 1 Girl

x x