Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2022

Verstappen passes Leclerc to win Imola sprint race after poor start

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen won the sprint race and claimed pole position for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix after passing Charles Leclerc in the closing laps.

The Red Bull driver was passed by the championship leader off the line, but Verstappen managed to catch and pass the leading Ferrari in the final laps. Sergio Perez will line up third on the grid, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr who recovered from tenth to fourth.

The skies were overcast but the circuit was dry as the field lined up for the first race of the season, with Verstappen on pole and Leclerc alongside.

As the lights went out, Leclerc got a far better start than Verstappen, and was clear of the Red Bull by the time the field reached the Tamburello chicane. Lando Norris settled into third and Kevin Magnussen took fourth, the first driver on medium tyres behind soft-shod rivals.

Back in the pack, Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu collided at Piratella, sending the Alfa Romeo into the inside wall, causing heavy damage to Zhou’s car. Gasly recovered to the pits with damage to his right-front wheel. The Safety Car was deployed as the Alfa Romeo was recovered, before the race restarted on the fifth lap.

Leclerc led Verstappen away at the restart, with Norris and Magnussen behind. Carlos Sainz Jnr passed Fernando Alonso for seventh before DRS was activated. Once it was, the zone was a scene of action almost every lap.

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Sergio Perez was first to wield DRS along the main straight to take fourth place from Magnussen. Daniel Ricciardo also passed the Haas, while Perez soon caught and passed the other McLaren of Norris to take third place. Sainz moved past both McLarens to move up into fourth position, while Valtteri Bottas overtook Magnussen to move up to seventh.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna sprint race in pictures
Heading into the final laps, Verstappen had been sticking with Leclerc until he finally breached DRS range of the Ferrari and gained half a second along the main straight. Verstappen began to pressure his rival, eventually using DRS to draw alongside the leader on the main straight and sweep through into the lead at Tamburello.

Once passed by the Red Bull, Leclerc was not able to counter attack and was forced to settle for second place as Verstappen crossed the line to secure the eight points for victory and pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Perez finished four seconds adrift in third, comfortably clear of Sainz in fourth. The two McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo will start from fifth and sixth tomorrow, ahead of Bottas and Magnussen, who took the final point available in eighth.

Alonso will start ninth for Alpine, with Mick Schumacher securing his best-ever grid position in tenth. George Russell could not improve on his starting position and will line up 11th, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in 14th in the second Mercedes.

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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    31 comments on “Verstappen passes Leclerc to win Imola sprint race after poor start”

    1. Well, there was some nice racing all over the field. Very enjoyable sprintrace!

    2. Champions drive

    3. Sprint race format is not working. If it is exciting then it is too short. If it is dull than it is too long and pointless exercise.

      1. I’d argue it was the perfect length today as it allowed Max Verstappen to come back from a terrible start and ended early enough to somewhat hide just how far ahead of the Ferraris the Red Bulls were in race trim.

      2. For whst we’ve seen unti lnow, either we succumb to a reversegrip sprint race, or it will never work.
        The only sprints worhty watching were the ones that had cars “out of place.”

    4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      23rd April 2022, 16:58

      I do wonder what Russell will be thinking heading to this track starting behind Bottas. This is what he said about what about where a mercedes driver should be:

      “For him he’s in 9th position, which for a mercedes driver is nothing , you know, he needs to be fighting for victories and podiums every single race”

      Bottas must feel quite satisfied that he’s beaten Russell twice in an alfa romeo as well as being in Q3 this year more than Hamilton.

      Does feel like Bottas moved at the perfect timing and russell has been very unlucky.

      1. Well, I think there a few clarifications that need to be made here… a driver of the car that Bottas was driving then was supposed to be fighting for podiums every race, no question about that. I don’t think it was “any Mercedes driver” ever, a safety car is also a Mercedes, innit

        And then re Bottas moving – I feel glad for him actually, and it must secretly feel satisfying to see the Mercs behind, no matter how good a human being he is.

        But let’s not forget he didn’t really “move” – he was fired.

      2. I did say last year if it was guaranteed that Mercedes will be the team to beat this year. Sure, if their car is fixed they should be fighting at the front, but if it materializes this year.

        1. I said, after testing, Mercedes build a wreck of a car and Hamilton will be a midfield pilot. About everybody laughed. Geuss I was right for once.

          1. I said, after testing, Mercedes build a wreck of a car and Hamilton will be a midfield pilot. About everybody laughed. Guess I was right for once.

    5. Undeniably enjoyable, but that was largely due to out-of-position drivers due to the wacky qualifying. Now we go into the race with a pretty ordinary grid, with most of the top 10 starting in order of race pace.

      I still don’t like it. I don’t think it’s a terrible idea in principle, but using the sprint to set the grid feels at odds with the ‘spirit’ of a sprint race. I wonder just how much harder the drivers would fight each other if they didn’t have one eye on tomorrow.

    6. Max gave plenty of space for Charles on inside of turn 1 and Charles braked early to avoid Max. Wonder why there were so many collision with Lewis last year.

      1. I guess a part of it was mercedes’ legacy, the unbeatable car, the best car from 2014 to 2021 included (if barely in 2021 and joint-best in 2018 imo), so for once they had a chance verstappen went all out, knowing you can’t back out if you want to beat hamilton. This year they’re against a team that can be beaten and has a history of bad in season development, I’m not saying ferrari aren’t favourites atm, but they’re not the stronghold mercedes was.

      2. Might have more to do with the fact the FIA have brought wheel to wheel back to where it was before Masi became RD.

        So pretty much 80 % of Maxs overtakes last season was illigal under the new / Before Masi wheel to wheel rules…

      3. Simple, it is the start if the season and neither want to risk a difference at this point. They need to be bagging points even if it 2nd.

        Later in the season, once they have a gap to the others – and especially if one has a big enough lead, attitudes will change. Right bownthey just need points, more than anything.

      4. Noframingplease (@)
        24th April 2022, 6:50

        @nin13 Probably not published here on Racefans cuze it doesn’t fit the narrative of the ‘bad boy’. In other media max said that the troubled relationship with with MB during the start of the 2021 put more things into the battle than only racing against Lewis. The hypocrisy of MB with their little remarks about that ‘suddenly fast honda’ and the continues framing as max was the only aggressive driver. Thinking that he could only win from lewis by ‘illegal’ passes is (@mosin) the story lewis fans will like to hear.

        1. Probably not published cause it is a professionell way of racing, expectable from any F1 driver. Of course in relation with the paperchamp its worth to mention.

    7. So Charles starts from second, on the rubbered line, with better traction. Smart.

      1. Noframingplease (@)
        24th April 2022, 6:36

        Didn’t read that anywhere. Max talked about ‘nice gearsync’ just after the start, meaning there was a fault in the electronics during shifting.

    8. Max and Charles are the best drivers in F1. That second best driver from last season ( his name escapes me) is still receiving Karma from Silverstone.

      1. your paperchamp is somewhat behind in WDC

        1. Due to reliability, he’s barely made any mistake all year.

          1. Apart from poor starts and SC restarts. Best improvement is he not yet fell into his dirty driving til now. Lets see if he can keep up professionell driving standards

        2. Not for long. After the race Charles Leclerc will certainly remain leader but do you want to bet who will be second?

        3. Noframingplease (@)
          24th April 2022, 7:42

          @romtrain Oh I love it to see the most Racefans comments are just ham fan…oys. Didn’t hear a german talking about their GOAT, in 30 years. LH 7 time WDS* (*, not a faster car, but one that crushed the competition for 7 years)

          1. just another blinded max fan comment of yours…

            1. Noframingplease (@)
              25th April 2022, 9:56

              @romtrain Did you really smashed all your mirrors at home? Oh sorry, I forgot this is the Hamilton fan forum where his fans are trying to give the impression they are totally unbiased (as long you don’t argue about the capabilities of their GOAT).

      2. Second best, nonsense, absolute worst, maybe tied with Nikita

        1. VER is not that bad

    9. It is great to see 2 fantastic drivers battling it out wheel to wheel without some over zealous muppet ruining it for everyone. Long may it continue, and I don’t really care who wins at the end of it (unless it’s Lando or Danny Ric). Just loving the great racing. Long may it continue.

    10. It was a pretty good sprint race I thought. However it could be argued that all the format has achieved is to allow the faster cars to line up in order with the slower ones moving backwards. The grid now has them two by two almost with Red Bull, Ferrari twice and then the two McLarens.

      The more haphazard nature of the qualifying session now counts for nothing really. Then the same will be true at any weekend with a sprint. Is this what we want to happen?

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