The Red Bull driver retained position over polesitter George Russell during their pitstops for intermediate tyres, conducted during a safety car produced by Logan Sargeant, and then-leader Norris was compelled to stop a lap later having passed the pit entry when the safety car was called.

“Yeah, it was a pretty crazy race and we had to be on top of our calls,” Verstappen said. “We remained calm, pitted at the right time, and the safety car worked well for us. After that we were managing the gaps.

“[McLaren and Mercedes fought us] in different stages as well, so it was a lot of fun out there.”

Norris filtered out in third and was forced to stick with the cars ahead, waiting for a drying line to form to reprise his pace from the opening stint that had allowed him to take the lead from Russell.

When the drying line emerged, the leading duo elected to pit together on the 45th lap, but Norris attempted to carve out an undercut by going two laps longer.

This helped him ahead of Russell and, briefly, Verstappen – but the McLaren driver suffered a snap of oversteer when blending out of the pits to allow Verstappen to cement his lead.

The Dutchman had to endure a second safety car when Carlos Sainz slipped off track and showed Alex Albon into the wall, but he overcame the restart perfectly and never came under threat from Norris thereafter.

Verstappen had not been able to pass Russell at the start, and initially fell beyond two seconds behind the Mercedes driver, but started to catch back up.

But Norris then started to lap much faster than the leading pair, and closed down Verstappen to start his overtures towards the lead as the circuit started to produce a drying line.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The Briton determined that Verstappen was closing in on DRS range of Russell, and thus took a lap out of cooling his tyres on the wet patches to put a move on the Dutchman along the back straight at the close of lap 20.

He put the same move on Russell at the end of the next lap, and the Mercedes driver subsequently went off at Turn 14 to allow Verstappen to trickle past.

Norris started to forge an impressive lead over the Red Bull driver at a rate of over two seconds per lap but, as he was approaching a 10-second lead, his progress was halted by a safety car as Logan Sargeant dumped his car into the wall on the exit of Turn 5.

The timing of the safety car, unlike Norris’ Miami win, was not in his favour; Verstappen could take a pitstop for fresh intermediates with a threat of further rain emerging, followed by Russell and Oscar Piastri, and Norris had to wait until the following lap to make a stop.

Norris lost out and cycled out in third, behind Verstappen and Russell, and remained locked behind them as the rain began to fall once again, albeit staying in touch. Verstappen exerted a lead that did not stray beyond the three-second mark, as the trio kept their powder dry and waited for the rain to subside.

Once the period of precipitation had ended, it had become clear by the 42nd lap that the intermediate-to-dry crossover was emerging as Pierre Gasly was lapping at the leaders’ pace on hard tyres.

Both Verstappen and Russell stopped at the end of the 45th lap, taking on the medium and hard respectively, but Norris was confident in his pace and was still setting personal bests, and thus took another two laps on the intermediate in a bid to undercut both.

It worked, for a time, and he emerged from the pits on mediums ahead of Verstappen for a handful of seconds – but with minimal grip coming out of the pitlane, his McLaren wagged its tail and allowed Verstappen to pick up the lead.

Russell won out in his late-race battle with Hamilton to secure Mercedes’ first podium of the season, although Hamilton clinched the final lap at the close of the race.

The pair cleared Oscar Piastri to ensure they could battle for the final podium place, leaving the Australian to a lonely final few laps as Fernando Alonso was over seven seconds behind in sixth.

Lance Stroll claimed seventh, while Daniel Ricciardo withstood a barrage of pressure from the Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon to finish in eighth – his first grand prix finish in the points this season.


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