2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix report and highlights: Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2 as Ferrari staggers in action-packed Imola race

Max Verstappen won a dramatically wet-dry Emilia Romagna Grand Prix over Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez when Ferrari could not deliver at home – Charles Leclerc spun late to sixth place after Carlos Sainz withdrew.

The Dutchman topped Saturday’s sprint and led off the line on Sunday, while teammate Perez joined him in front – while Leclerc momentarily dropped to fourth place. Safety Car appeared on the opening lap when Daniel Ricciardo tipped Carlos Sainz into the gravel and out of the race for the second Grand Prix.

As the pitch dried, the drivers began to switch from inters to mediums on the 19th lap – Perez came in before Verstappen, who led Leclerc into the pits a lap later. The Monegasque appeared right in front of the Mexican, but Perez skated past to P2 with warmer tires and then kept the Ferrari in check.

A late bet on softs from P3 from Leclerc saw the Red Bulls follow suit and retain the lead, but on lap 54 – again in the hunt for Perez – the championship leader spun and hit the wall in Variante Alta. He dropped down to ninth after having to pit for a new nose and softer, and only got to P6 at the flag.

Lando Norris therefore took the last podium spot, twice promoted with Sainz retiring and Leclerc going off track. Mercedes’ George Russell enjoyed a brilliant start and was up seven places to P4 when the checkered flag appeared, holding Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas back for less than a second despite a late duel with the driver he replaced at Silver Arrows.

Yuki Tsunoda finished in seventh place for AlphaTauri and passed Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel (P8) late – while Leclerc finished ahead of the pair with his late rescue effort.

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen ran as high as P5 thanks to another windy start, but fell back down the order to ninth. Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll rounded the top 10, a double point for the team that came in to Imola at zero.

Alex Albon’s solid display put him in 11th place ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly – who could not get past even with DRS (which was activated when the pitch was considered dry enough on the 34th lap). Lewis Hamilton was next, as the Mercedes driver had been unopposed by Verstappen in the 40th lap, to finish in 13th place – Esteban Ocon finished in 11th place, but dropped to 14th place thanks to a five seconds penalty for an uncertain release.

2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Carlos Sainz spins off in a wet start at Imola

Zhou Guanyu started from the pitlane after his Sprint crash, where the Alfa Romeo driver took P15 in front of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi.

In 17th place came Mick Schumacher, the Haas driver who had spun twice on Sunday afternoon – while Daniel Ricciardo was last and 18th after his 1st lap confusion with Sainz, where he again faced too hard midway through the race in a fruitless strategy .

Along with Sainz, compatriot Fernando Alonso was the second DNF to have lost part of his side pod, Schumacher had lost control and hit the Alps’ flanks in the first half.

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As it happened

The rain made it hard for players like Imola to show their technical control of the ball on this soggy day. fans paints the stands red, small stripes blue and white among them for AlphaTauri’s home run. The clouds escaped during the rounds to the grid, which was carried on intermediate connections – but there was still a risk of precipitation in the air.

After taking P1 from pole in the sprint, Max Verstappen ensured that he lined up in front of Charles Leclerc, while Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz made serious moves on Saturday in the sprint to occupy the front row for this Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Also in the air was a sense of danger for Ferrari, which during the night changed parts on all their engines – including those from customer teams Haas and Alfa Romeo – and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the 14th-placed starter who had noticed hiccups on its motor unit on the turns to the grid, with assurances that the problem would be solved.

The lights went out under gray skies, the whole field on the middle deck – Zhou Guanyu started from the pitlane – in pursuit of Verstappen, who led off with Perez in second place. Cue heartache for Ferrari loyalists: Daniel Ricciardo collided with Sainz at Tamburello, sent the Ferrari out – and brought the Safety Car forward.


Sainz withdrew for the second race in a row

Leclerc also lost, down in fourth place behind Lando Norris, who put him into turn 2; the winners in that chaos were Kevin Magnussen, who went from P8 to P5, ahead of George Russell (P11 to P6). Lance Stroll also enjoyed the opening tour, which went from P15 to P11, while teammate Sebastian Vettel was up in ninth place from P13.

The race was restarted for lap 5 of 64, with Red Bull retaining their one-two so far, while Norris held strong in P3 ahead of Leclerc – until lap 8, when the Ferrari swept past on the main line. The Dutchman was three seconds ahead of team-mate Perez at the time, Leclerc another three seconds left.

The dry line was prominent at lap 10, and the drivers were on the hunt for some wet spots to soothe their burning tires – the races held out for what was considered an incoming shower.

Russell, up five places thanks to a brilliant start, provided the fireworks at this time in a fantastic duel with Magnussen for P5. He stalked Haas from the 11th to the 13th round, where the Dane kept his elbows out on several points and almost lost to Russell in the 2nd round on the 12th round, but just by keeping his place. The Silver Arrow finally came past Variante Alta with a fantastic move on the 13th inning.

That match helped Bottas open up and pry P6 by the Haas driver a lap later at Rivazza.


Bottas was fast all the way through for the Alfa Romeo – how far could he get?

Back at the front, Leclerc tumbled into Perez in a knot, just 1.3 seconds behind the Mexican, who in turn was six seconds behind his teammate in the 15th inning – Verstappen still stretches his legs.

No rain yet, so the tires suffered, and it was Ricciardo who took the risk of pit for the mediums on the 18th lap, perhaps hoping to save something after his lap 1 collision with Sainz. It opened the window.

Ferrari’s pit crew then appeared, but Leclerc did not come in for a new set. It was rather Red Bull that reacted first and sent Perez in after media. On the 20th lap, Verstappen would lead Leclerc in – the Dutchman enjoyed a stop 1.4 seconds faster than his rival – after which the entire field was on yellow-banded slicks.

Leclerc would show up right in front of Perez, but the Mexican’s tires were hotter and he meandered past into the initial harassment of the second half. It looked like Red Bull’s strategy had worked and they were back on course for a one-two … though with Leclerc lurking.

Leclerc wanted to watch on lap 22, but he could not get past, giving his tires a respite before closing back on lap 29 as Perez went off the track. Without any DRS yet, however, the pass to P2 would be so much harder. Verstappen continued, now 9.5 seconds in the lead.

On lap 34, the conditions were considered dry enough for DRS to be activated.

2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso retires after side pod torn off

Unaffected, Verstappen stretched his legs further, and symbolically stretched Hamilton in 14th place on lap 41 with the reigning champion now 12 seconds ahead of his teammate.

Round 50 saw Leclerc come in for soft tires, triggering Perez and then Verstappen to pit for the same connections on the following rounds. Perez was now put in the clutches of Ferrari and had to once again build a solid defense if he was to seal Red Bull one-two.

That was the case until Leclerc spun and knocked on the wall at Variante Alta on lap 53 – which caused him to fall down to P9 when he put in a new wing. On another set of soft tires, he came over to P6 with late passes on Vettel and Tsunoda.

Verstappen won by 16.5 seconds over teammate Perez, Dagens Driver, who fought back in the championship match with a decisive victory. Falling at home, Ferrari’s problems allowed Norris to take the last podium spot for McLaren.

In P4, Russell was 0.6 s ahead of ex-Mercedes driver Bottas – the Alfa Romeo driver who had late chased Silver Arrow without success. Seventh place Yuki Tsunoda overtook Magnussen with DRS in the 48th lap and took another from Vettel in the 54th lap – useful points for AlphaTauri just a few miles away from their Faenza factory despite the Japanese driver struggling for traction in the middle of the race.


Russell held off Bottas by six-tenths

Vettel finished in eighth place, his teammate Stroll number 10 – both Aston Martins took points home after entering Imola without anyone. Between them was Magnussen, the Dane fell to P9 despite driving as high as P5 after another great start.

Alex Albon took a brilliant P11 for Williams, his pace on medium was good enough to keep AlphaTauris Pierre Gasly behind by 0.6s, Lewis Hamilton another seven tenths off in P13 as the Mercedes driver just could not get past, despite of that he became tormented. close after DRS opened up on the 35th inning.

Esteban Ocon finished 11th from 16th place, but was ranked 14th, thanks to a five-second time penalty for an uncertain release on his pitstop, which saw alpine slamming wheels with Hamilton’s Mercedes in the pitlane.


Vettel brought Aston Martin back on track with Stroll finishing a two-point finish

Zhou Guanyu’s Sprint crash made him start from the pits and finish as number 15 for Alfa Romeo – ahead of Williams Nicholas Latifi as number 16.

Mick Schumacher spun at the start, just after Sainz had been stranded at Tamburello. The Haas driver suffered another spin on the 25th lap in a duel with Latifi, to finish as number 17.

After his 1-tangle round with Sainz, Ricciardo had been the first rider to go in the pit for slicks. The Australian came back halfway for a set of hard tires, but finished only as number 18 – with Alonso and Sainz the two retirees on Sunday.

Not Ferrari’s finest day, but fans were in full swing when they saw the Red Bulls delighted duo spray champagne on the podium with an equally cheering Norris.


The podium trio celebrates

Key quote

“It’s always hard to achieve something like that,” said Emilia Romagna’s Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen. “Already yesterday and the day before yesterday we were up and running and it looked like a strong weekend. Today you never know with the weather how competitive you want to be … but as a team we did everything well and I think one-two is very well deserved.

“The start was very important, but afterwards [also], assess the conditions and when to switch to slippery tires and on the outside lap on slippery tires so as not to make mistakes. In the lead, you always have to dictate the pace, and it’s always a little harder in the beginning, but everything was well controlled. “

What’s next?

The Miami Grand Prix will make its debut on 6-8. May, this brand new era of F1 takes on a whole new cycle – where Max Verstappen has scored a valuable victory in Ferrari’s backyard, and Verstappen has now moved to P2 in the drivers’ position behind Leclerc.

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