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Verstappen holds off Norris to clinch Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Three-time world champion and series leader Max Verstappen returned to winning ways on Sunday when he resisted a late charge by Lando Norris to take a dramatic victory for Red Bull at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. 

After being beaten in Miami, where friend and rival Norris claimed his maiden victory for McLaren, the Dutchman resisted him to come home 0.725 seconds ahead of the Briton who mounted a rousing final attack in vain.

Charles Leclerc finished third for Ferrari ahead of Oscar Piastri in the second McLaren, Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari and seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate George Russell. 

Sergio Perez was eighth in the second Red Bull ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda, in his Faenza-based team’s home event. 

Verstappen’s hard-earned win, after a difficult two days of practice, was his third at Imola, his fifth of the season and the 59th of his career, lifting him 48 points clear of Leclerc in the drivers’ title race. 

“We did a great race considering how it started and I had to work hard for that,” admitted Verstappen. “The whole race I pushed flat out to make a gap. 

“I felt quite strong on mediums, but on the hards, it was more difficult to manage and the last 15 laps I had no grip and I was sliding a lot. 

“I could see him behind me and I am super-happy to win here today.”

Norris said: “It’s frustrating! This feels more painful. It hurts me to say so, but with one or two more laps I think I’d have had him.”

Leclerc, whose podium finish for Ferrari in their heartland was acclaimed by masses of tifosi, said: “At least a podium! Of course, I wanted to win and I didn’t make it.

“They were incredibly quick at the end, but it’s looking good for us for the rest of the season. Monaco is going to be special.”

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