With the victory of Max Verstappen in the Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna, Formula 1 is now really on track for a nice title fight.

The Red Bull driver delivered an important blow to Lewis Hamilton.

At the same time, the reigning world champion showed what it takes to keep him from an eighth title.

Verstappen now knows again that Hamilton has only been eliminated when his Mercedes has been irreparably destroyed and the Brit is already in the shower.

Because it did not look good for the World Cup leader in the thirtieth round. Hamilton stood in the gravel pit as he struggled with his gearbox. With great difficulty, the Briton came out of the misery after a minute, rolling backwards. His Mercedes was damaged and the tires were dirty.

As a lucky accident, there was the crash of teammate Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes protégé George Russell. While Hamilton drove back to the pits, the safety car came onto the track, limiting his loss of time. Verstappen did pass the Englishman, who came a lap behind. "But we'll get it back after the safety car," said race engineer Peter Bonnington Hamilton, while the botched Mercedes drove back onto the track.

The red flag situation that followed gave the visibly balding seven-time champion the opportunity to regain his senses.

After the field was released after a half-hour hiatus, Hamilton drove largely single-handedly back to second place with an impressive catch-up race.

En passant he also clocked the fastest lap time, leaving the World Cup lead in British hands.

Lewis Hamilton congratulates Max Verstappen on the victory over Imola (Picture: Getty)

Lewis Hamilton congratulates Max Verstappen on the victory over Imola (Picture: Getty)

Photo: Getty Images

Lazarus rose from the dead again

The whole situation was Hamilton down to earth. If Lazarus rose from the dead, he did it more often. Even if he gets into trouble, there is often a favorable safety car or other circumstance that allows the Mercedes driver to limit the damage. For example, in the Grand Prix of Germany in 2018 or that of Great Britain in the same year, the 36-year-old Briton managed to limit the damage in this way. And he has the qualities to convert such happiness in an accident into a good result.

So Verstappen really has to be better than its experienced competitor on a regular basis. Perfection is required. One mistake in a qualifying lap at Imola and pole goes to Hamilton. One small moment of upset during a catch-up action for the lead in Bahrain and he has to let the Mercedes leader again.

On Sunday, Verstappen approached that perfection.

The start from third place was excellent, the way the Limburger put out his elbows in the first corner gave a good signal to Hamilton.

After years of dominance, there is a real challenger again.

Valtteri Bottas never really opposes his team leader and in the two years that Ferrari really had a car to compete with, Sebastian Vettel carefully destroyed his own chances.

Hamilton will remember after Sunday that Verstappen will stick out his elbows if necessary (Photo: Getty)

Hamilton will remember after Sunday that Verstappen will stick out his elbows if necessary (Photo: Getty)

Photo: Getty Images

Hamilton knows that Verstappen is a different story

Verstappen is a different story and it seems that Hamilton knows that. He visibly enjoys the fight. His challenger showed that he had grown up and was more than ready for a real title fight. Verstappen coped well with the setback in Bahrain and the mistake in qualifying, and clearly turned that into extra motivation. The start of the Red Bull driver looked very convincing, the calm and control during the race - even during the hectic moments around the pit stop - impressed.

Certainly the lap from the pits, being one of the first on dry weather tires, was excellent by Verstappen. A top time in the third sector protected the Limburger against the 'overcut' of Mercedes. Due to a well-deserved victory, the two ruffs are now almost equal at the top.

Only one point separates Verstappen and Hamilton.

That is a wonderful development for the sport, which is yearning for excitement for the world title.

Now there is the relatively young super talent that after years finally has a car to compete in every race for the win.

And a crafty fox who stands up for his eighth title, but especially takes the opportunity to show that he can also do it when the pressure is high and he does not necessarily have the best material.

In addition, there are two cars that are evenly matched, with teams behind them capable of taking on the development battle.

Two more weeks to wait for the next chapter in Portugal.

See also: View the results of the GP Emilia-Romagna and the World Cup standings