mobile app bar

Christian Horner Breathes a Sigh of Relief as Max Verstappen Avoids ‘Strike 3’ in Imola

Nischay Rathore

Christian Horner Throws a Sigh of Relief as Max Verstappen Avoids ‘Strike 3’ in Imola

Despite leading the majority of the race, Max Verstappen managed the win at Imola by a whisker. The Dutchman fought through his teeth to keep a feisty Lando Norris at bay in the dying moments. That, however, wasn’t the only factor he overcame. Christian Horner talked about how the Dutchman already had three warnings for exceeding track limits. One more, and he would have lost the race to Norris despite finishing ahead.

@JunaidSamodien_ on X quoted the Red Bull boss as saying, “Massive pressure because he had three strikes, and couldn’t put a millimeter wrong. The first stint was strong, and the second half of the last stint Lando was catching very closely. You can see the cars are converging and starting to look very similar.”

Lando Norris managed his tires in the second stint well to mount an attack in the final few laps. As he got the green light from his strategist, he pushed to keep the threat from Charles Leclerc in third at bay.

Once he got that covered, the Briton went after the race leader Max Verstappen. Norris kept eating into his lead until the final lap and came in second by just 0.7 seconds.

The negligible gap over a race proves Christian Horner is right. With the rest of the grid gradually closing the gap, Red Bull needs to be wary of the threat. That includes the menace that McLaren has lately proved to be.

Lando Norris has already taken advantage of the recent spike in performance by registering his maiden race win in Miami. Surely, the Briton wouldn’t rest on that laurel now that he knows what a victory in F1 tastes like.

Is McLaren the ultimate threat to Max Verstappen?

Until the first two practice sessions in Imola, McLaren were off the pace they displayed at Miami. However, as the Papaya mechanics found the right balance in the car for the circuit, Oscar Piastri topped the timings chart in the third practice session while Lando Norris came in second.

The duo once again proved to be a worthy threat to Max Verstappen in qualifying. Both McLaren drivers finished within a tenth of a second of the pole lap set by the Dutchman. Had it not been for the penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen, the Australian would have started the race in P2 and Norris in P3.

To Verstappen’s luck, Piastri started from P5 and wasn’t much of a problem for the race. That, however, does not mean he cannot continue to be in the mix for the coming races. With the way McLaren has progressed, both drivers will look to eat into the reigning champion’s lead.

Post Edited By:Aishwary Gaonkar

About the author

Nischay Rathore

Nischay Rathore


Nischay Rathore is an F1 journalist at The SportsRush with over a thousand articles under his belt. An avid Ayrton Senna admirer, Nischay embarked on his sports journalism journey despite completing graduation in Law. When not covering the high-speed thrills of the pinnacle of motorsport, he can be seen enjoying crime thrillers and 90s gangster movies with a hearty bowl of buttery popcorn.

Read more from Nischay Rathore

Share this article