Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Imola, 2022

Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two at Imola as Leclerc spins out of third

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen secured maximum points from the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix weekend by dominating from pole as Charles Leclerc threw away third place with a spin.

Verstappen was never troubled out front during a race that started wet but dried out over the 63 laps. Sergio Perez secured a Red Bull one-two in second, with Lando Norris inheriting third place after Leclerc spun at the Variante Alta chicane in the closing laps.

Rain had fallen over the Imola circuit between the end of the Formula 2 feature race and the start of the formation lap, leaving the track damp by the time the field set off from the grid. But with no rain falling for at least an hour before the lights, all 20 drivers lined up for the start on intermediate tyres.

When the lights went out, Verstappen got a much better start than in the sprint and led on the run to Tamburello, as Perez out-dragged the Ferrari of Leclerc to take second by the time they reached the chicane, while Norris also moved ahead of Leclerc to go into third.

Behind, Carlos Sainz Jnr was side-by-side with Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren through the chicane and the pair made contact, sending the Ferrari spinning into the gravel and out of the race, while Valtteri Bottas tagged the rear of the McLaren, caught out by Ricciardo slowing in front of him.

Race start, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in pictures
The Safety Car was deployed while the Ferrari was recovered from the gravel, with the two Red Bulls leading Norris in the train. The race restarted at the start of the fifth lap, with Verstappen leading his team mate away.

Fernando Alonso had been hit lightly on the side of his Alpine by Mick Schumacher at the start of the race, but as the race restarted, Alonso’s lightly damaged sidepod suddenly ripped apart along the main straight, ripping a large whole in the side of the Alpine and forcing him into retirement.

On lap eight, Leclerc slipstreamed by Norris to take third place and began his pursuit of the two Red Bulls out front. Behind them, George Russell battled with Kevin Magnussen for multiple laps before eventually taking fifth place, before Bottas found a way by the Haas to demote Magnussen down to seventh.

The track began to dry out, McLaren were the first to risk a switch to dry tyres by bringing Ricciardo into the pits at the end of lap 16. On brand new mediums, Ricciardo immediately became the fastest man on the track, triggering a flurry of activity in the pit lane.

Red Bull bought Perez in from second place first, before Verstappen and Leclerc pitted the following lap. Leclerc emerged from the pit lane ahead of Perez to take second place, but Perez used his far warmer dry tyres to pass the Ferrari on the run to the Villeneuve Chicane. Further back, Esteban Ocon received a five second time penalty after Alpine released him in front of Lewis Hamilton in the pit lane in a manner the stewards decided was unsafe.

On the mediums, Leclerc initially seemed to have more pace than Perez and began to pressure him for second, getting close in the slipstream of the Red Bull but could not pull alongside as DRS had not been enabled. Perez built up a small gap over the Ferrari, but a mistake at the Variante Alta saw him miss the chicane completely, allowing Leclerc to loom large in his mirrors again. However, Leclerc was again unable to mount a challenge.

Verstappen looked comfortable out in the lead of the race, pulling away from Perez, who gradually established a gap over Leclerc in third. At the end of lap 49, Ferrari opted to bring Leclerc in for soft tyres. He rejoined just behind Norris, but was able to pass the McLaren with his fresh rubber on the following lap to retake third.

Red Bull responded to Ferrari’s stop by bringing in Perez for soft tyres, before doing the same for Verstappen the following lap. Perez rejoined in second place once again, but his advantage over Leclerc had disappeared.

As Leclerc tried to pressure Perez for second place, he took too much kerb into the Variante Alta and spun the Ferrari, lightly bouncing the car into the barrier. Leclerc was able to right his car and continue, but had to pit to change tyres and change his front wing, dropping him down to ninth place.

Leclerc had to try and make up as many places as possible before the chequered flag and managed to pass Magnussen for eighth and then Vettel for seventh, before then chasing down Yuki Tsunoda to take sixth place.

Out front, Verstappen cruised through the final laps and took the chequered flag to win his second race of the season, just over 15 seconds clear of team mate Perez. Norris inherited third place for McLaren after Leclerc’s mistake, securing his first podium of the season and a second consecutive third place at Imola.

Russell finished fourth for Mercedes after absorbing heavy pressure over the final laps from Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo. Leclerc eventually finished sixth, ahead of Tsunoda, Vettel and Magnussen, with Lance Stroll rounding out the points with Aston Martin’s strongest weekend of the season so far.

Lewis Hamilton finished a lap down in 13th place after struggling to find a way past Pierre Gasly in the second half of the race, inheriting a position after Ocon’s time penalty was applied.

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix reaction

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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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67 comments on “Verstappen leads Red Bull one-two at Imola as Leclerc spins out of third”

  1. To all the DRS critics. You have seen today how the race got so boring without the DRS. These cars can follow better than last year but DRS is still required for overtakes.
    Great performance by the Top 5 today. Sainz can’t catch luck at all.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      24th April 2022, 16:06

      he was unlucky today, but it wasn’t bad luck on almost every other occasion.

      1. Sainz was totally responcible for his bad luck and has no one but himself to blaim. He tried to overtake Ricardo in a chicane when Ricardo had the racing line, all this in wet conditions just off the right line.

        1. RIC has most of the blame since SAI was almost entirely in front before they entered the chicane, therefore visible too, and he didn’t do anything wrong against RIC. Plus, it was 1st lap, rules are more relaxed…. or at least that’s what we know from past experiences.

          1. I would agree… but Ricciardo couldn’t go anywhere else. He couldn’t go any slower as he was already being hit from behind. You cannot claim the corner or back out of it or anything you just have to stick to your line as they did. The driver on the outside has to leave space out of self interest and if there is someone outside him, or there is no more road (like this case) contact is almost inevitable. It is a racing incident as neither driver could avoid it. At least 5 cars made some contact and probably more, it is just a very tricky first corner.

          2. Mr Squiggle
            25th April 2022, 1:51

            the formula 1 website has a nice package of vision of this incident. The overhead vision is of the most use

            Daniel couldn’t have gone further left, the fact that he slide off the inside kerbing tells us this

            there is clearly some room to the right of Carlos, although it is off the racing line and looks slippy as all get out

            Its a racing incident, but if you ask the question, who had more space to give, who could have avoided the incident and left both cars still running, it was definitely Carlos. Sainz had choices that Daniel didn’t have

    2. @amg44 Really, DRS makes racing better?

      I felt the racing was better without, meaning the drivers had to setup and prepare their pass, rather than press a button to give an advantage.

      DRS is and has always been a cop out in order to attempt to try and make racing more interesting.

      1. Yes without DRS the races will become very processional and boring. These cars are heavy unlike before when cars were lighter and drivers could throw them around much easier.
        These heavy cars need overtaking assistance and DRS is the best solution so far.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          24th April 2022, 16:32

          So you think the last few laps when they had DRS solved the problem? Did you find the DRS passes improved your enjoyment of the race?

          I personally preferred the chasing and attempts to find a way past more enjoyable than watching a quick replay of Leclerc DRSing past someone…

          Each to their own I guess. Personally, this felt like a proper F1 race. I enjoyed it much more than some of the DRS-fests we’ve had recently.

          1. Exactly! They can follow, and follow closely. It’s time to show what they can do without the almost cheating advantage of the drs.

          2. It would have been interesting to see whether Leclerc could have made those passes at the end without DRS. Would Ferrari have leant on Haas for Magnussen to let him through or would Tsunoda have risked his own race driving the widest Alpha Tauri. With DRS available every Leclerc pass was a forgone conclusion.

          3. Agreed, i really enjoyed the close following and continu combat between cars for many laps on a row.
            DRS is just a gimmick that hardly needs extra talent.

    3. Did we watch the same race? What do you want? Five passes every lap? Ten? Would you only be satisfied with a pass in every corner, every lap? I bet you won’t.

      Hamilton vs Gasly, Russell vs Bottas – that was fun to watch, great to watch. Stop whining.

      1. What do you want?

        Apparently not what you want. Is that OK?

      2. Hamilton vs Gasly, Russell vs Bottas – two fights taht only happened after the DRS were enabled.
        And even then nothing properly happened. None went side to side, lets alone having a real chance of passing.
        The passes that happen withour DRS were over much slower cars.

    4. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      24th April 2022, 16:44

      Really? Bottas and Russell hadn’t been notified of that then. In fact, because they couldn’t use DRS, they actually found some really unusual places overtake Magnussen.
      Furthermore, DRS didn’t really go anywhere. Leclerc could not overtake Perez, Hamilton couldn’t overtake Gasly, who couldn’t overtake Albon either and Bottas couldn’t get enough speed to pass Russell. DRS seemed to be considerably less overpowered than in the sprint race. But they again, the RB is just fast in a straight line anyway because they seemed to be practically immune to slipstreaming. Imola is just a difficult place to pass. period

    5. The problem is not DRS per se, but the fact something like that is needed to allow overtaking.

    6. Actually DRS didn’t do anything with all those trains. Next time they just can remove it.

    7. @amg44 I thought the racing was so much better without DRS, Certainly better than yesterdays sprint where DRS made passing boringly easy.

      I haven’t enjoyed the racing that much since DRS failed in abu dhabi a few years ago. Was great to see some real racing and genuinely exciting overtaking.

  2. Verstappen absolutely dominant, while Lewis on the other hand had a stinker as his teammate made the most of the race. Shootout to Lando and Tsunoda as well.

    1. Wet conditions where good brakes are essential isn’t helped by porposing which from one moment to the next reducing the downforce required for braking into those corner. Add to that having cars ahead stuck on the ‘dry line’, also affecting the air intake and cooling of the car. It all adds up to a mountain of pain for Hamilton an the Mercedes. He’s also got those extra sensors form the last race and whatever tweeks are being done with his car as they try to understand the problem . There’s obviously a lot more going on than we are told.

  3. Schumi_alonso
    24th April 2022, 16:07

    Enrique Bernoldi Gasly

      1. New fan to the sport?

      2. Monaco 2001. Enrique Bernoldi (Arrows) blocked a much faster David Coulthard (McL) for over 30 laps, until he had to pit. Only defending his position and doing nothing wrong, but after the race Ron Dennis had some of his typical bullying and reprehensible behavior, accosting Enrique and menacing him with the end of his career.

        Glad that Mclaren & F1 got rid of the most loathsome team principal in history, until TW, that is.

        1. Ron Dennis built McLaren from a near non-entity into one of the most successful teams in history. Along the way, he made history with driver pairings such as Senna-Prost and Alonso-Hamilton, numerous innovations and the awesome side project that was the McLaren F1. Then you, an absolute nobody comes online to label him loathsome and celebrate the fact he’s no longer involved. Very funny world this…

          1. Wow, you must be somebody, then, congrats. Now explains us absolute nobodies how RD’s behavior towards Enrique Bernoldi was fair and laudable.

          2. With races like these, no wonder the hambrigadists are losing their temper so hard and fast

          3. And if there are textbook cases of driver mismanagement by a TP you mentioned two: Senna – Prost and Alonso-Hamilton. Oddly, you mention that as a triumph by Ron “We are racing Alonso” Dennis.

    1. David Coulthard Hamilton

  4. Congrats Checo your are now nothing more than second fiddle to Max. Max fans are proud to have a shield wall like you.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      24th April 2022, 16:44

      Did you not watch F1 last year?

    2. At least he’s doing the job. With I could say the same thing about SAI.

    3. Yeah its a pity Lewis hasn’t got Bottas anymore. Now the old man is second fiddle himself, to serve Russell who is doing a much better job!

  5. Lewis and Mercedes need to be more brave with the strategy. They play it too safe with the strategy almost all the time. I was thinking Lewis and those around him should have come in for Slicks 2 laps earlier than they did as it was clearly getting drier.
    Mercedes even asked Lewis the lap before he pitted and he said it is still too wet. Disappointed with their lack of courage there which rightfully costed them points this race.

    1. @amg44 Hamilton suffered a little from being over-cautious last year. This year it could cost him a lot more though (in relative terms, fighting for points in the midfield rather than a championship).

    2. Courage is fine when you can relie on the basics. Good brakes , good traction and consistent downforce. As the history of these groud effects cars shown, when you try to be courageous with unsafe cars, it leads to accidents.

      Hamilton has always been a percentage racer, he will push when its in his favour to do so. Just look at Sainz and his application of courage.

      As Wolf said,when he appologised to Hamilton, the car was undriveable.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      24th April 2022, 23:38

      @amg44 strategy wouldn’t have mattered. That car wasn’t going anywhere. It clearly wasn’t capable of carrying enough speed to line up next to the Alpha Tauri in the slipstream.

      It almost looked comical because the car suddenly lost speed the moment Lewis pulled alongside. Most drivers would have wrecked the car there in desperation. At least Lewis kept the car intact but I don’t know if that’s a good thing. He can’t have another race with a chassis and engine that are slower than Williams.

  6. Good race, was even great for the first 34 laps. We saw what great, close racing we could have if only there was no drs.
    After that, only Albon was able to resist with a great drive againt Gasly with the artificial overtaking button.
    Verstappen faultless, Perez excellent, doing exactly what is needed.
    Leclerc uncharacteristically impulsive, but possibly lesson learned for the remaining season.
    Norris got lucky, but his pace put him in the position to benefit from Leclerc’s error.
    Great defending and drive from Russel, nice duel with Bottas. It would be unfair to lose 4th to DRS, but he managed to stay in front.
    Hamilton was unrecognisable, and uninspired to say the least. A great driver, but beeing now steadily outperfprmed by his younger colleague, eager to proove himself.

    1. Just to add. Hamilton is normally a much later braker even in wet conditions, than his rivals. Todays race showed time and time again, he had to break earlier and therefore could not make those moves to over take into the corner. That’s a significant part of his race gone because he has no downforce into the corner due to the porposing. Lewis cant go any faster than the car allows, otherwise its an accident waiting to happen.

      short of any real analysis all we see is what our eyes tells us.

      1. Lewis cant go any faster than the car allows

        That is of course true, and of any driver. It just demonstrates that 90% is the car, 10% is the driver. For any driver/car combination.

        1. So the relative difference between the 10% driver factor of Russel and Hamilton was worth 10 positions today

          1. To be fair Hamilton lost out to ocon and stroll due to a poor stop, then overtaken by Albion and gasly on hot rubber just after exiting. If it had been a good stop he probably would have been in 10th (at least during that stage of the race)

          2. Well, ok, 90% car, 8% driver, 2% luck ;-)

  7. Verstappen was supreme this weekend, easily his best so far. Leclerc and a slippy track, not the best combination. I thought Perez did well along with Russell and Bottas. Sainz unlucky. Why didn’t Mercedes pit Hamilton for slicks around the same time as Ricciardo? Baffles me totally, he/they had nothing to lose.

    1. True, they should have.

  8. Concrates for Verstappen taking the race to the Ferraris.

    As for the rest, today was a real test for the new car design. Parposing on a wet track reliant on Ground effect for downforce into the corners, made this race a tough race for unsure, unsafe cars.

    Dispite Russells performance, you have to say the the Mercedes are struggling. Wet conditions is normally where Hamilton thrieves but today nothing seemed to go his way. His pit to slicks was late by one lap, and even then he his exit from the pits was compromised. I believe Hamilton is still carrying those extra sensors from the last race, although this remains to be confirmed. As the lead driver Mercedes are looking for his feed back to develop the car, and so its no surprise that once again, his car seemed disadvantaged. Their is obviously a lot more going on than meets the eye.

    Sprint weekends wont have helped either, as the cars arent allowed further setup chanages between the sprints and the actual race.

    I just wish the sky pundits understood all this.

    1. You’re right about Hamilton’s car, I wonder whether some of his apparent caution comes down to knowing it’s ultimately better to complete a race and use the data than fight for a few points (or just positions). Still Russell clearly outdrove him this weekend.

    2. I understood from Mercedes the weight difference is only a few grams:

      It’s a few grams here and a few grams there, but when our cars were weighed on the FIA scales it showed that the difference was really only a few grams. So the time loss that Lewis had from the sensors was very minor

      So that should not be the reason that Lewis is slower.

      1. There’s only a few grams between the cars because Lewis is 2kg lighter than Russell. Lewis is actually carrying an extra 2kgs of equipment on his car.

        That said they are still trying to understand the cars, and so the set up will necessarily be different. My opinion is they are using Hamilton’s experiance to gather data, they are effectively using the races to test the car. As a result one car more stable than the other. Unlike a normal race they cant tweek the car with the data the learn over the weekend. These sprint weekends come with a cost of less learning and setup times. Hamilton’s car did poorly in the sprints, and the same set up was carried over unchanged into the race.

        And becauseMercedes are reliant on Hamilton’s experiance to help develop the car, this situation is bound to continue, as the pundits on the sideline remark on how much better Russell is doing.

        1. ok i take this back, it seems the car weight is absolute and not the weight of the car with the driver onboard. Other points still stand. Lewis is being used as the test driver.

    3. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      24th April 2022, 16:46

      Yeah, despite the good result, Russell was still being caught up by Bottas… That car was not good this weekend

  9. DOTD is clear, but Norris & Tsunoda did well too.
    I wonder if Ricciardo had damage as he was nowhere since his early-ish pit stop.

  10. Just a side note.

    Verstappen has made history by getting a Grand Slam and taking Pole twice for the same race weekend.

    1. @maddme Though he didn’t lead every lap of the sprint race, so it is still a grand slam :O?

      1. @david-br. It has been announced as a Grand Slam.

        1. @maddme Cool, it should be. I was just wondering with the confusion the sprint race caused over qualifying stats etc. last year.

    2. I agree with Grand Slam, but I don’t think it should be counted as two poles for the same race. Pole should be only one, either who ends Qualy as no 1 or who starts the main race from pole.

  11. Out of curiosity, how far was HAM from being lapped by RUS?

    1. Following. They were saying how BOT wanted to pass RUS to prove that Mercedes made the wrong choice. Mercedes seems to have made the wrong choice in keeping HAM. BOT and RUS would give them a solid 3rd this year.

  12. Two processional races this weekend and still no DRS until late in the day for the real race.

    The claim that the new regulations would make racing closer have come true. They are close together in trains of cars that can’t pass one another unless there is a patch of damp or a car with no tyres left. So close that all but three cars were 20 or more seconds behind.

    1. @Witan
      I agree with the fact there was (a lot!) closer following. I agree there were less overtakes for the feature race. I disagree with your conclusions though. The sprint race was not processional at all I feel. There were a lot of boring DRS passes way before the actual corner. I don’t like that, but still, there was action all around.

      For the feature race: the dry(ing) line forced single file racing. If the track was dry (or evenly wet) it could have been amazing. Hamilton trying would be better because he would have more track to work with. But on the other hand maybe Magnussen wouldn’t be as successful in defending. But I feel the point is, if the amount of overtakes is the issue: it’s not due to (the lack of) DRS

  13. So glad that we are stuck for now with only 2 of the usual HAM trolls on this site. @amg44 and @david-br. When something “extraordinary” comes throughtout the season though, people as @freelittlebirds or purelittleclowns wil be here again. @Emma is the connecting dot between all of these. GOAT indeed.

    1. I know more about F1 than a child like you can ever dream. So learn from the senior and educated F1 fans like me instead of writing stupid comments.

      1. @amg44 Of course you do. Only how to defend #AMG44 driver. And don’t talk for “educated F1 fans”. All your messages, you, david-br, and other troll accounts, always mention “Lewis” on their messages. Typical?

    2. @f1-fan You haven’t commented for 8 months (!?) and that’s your comment?!

      1. @david-br It’s better to no comment than to pretend to be “balanced” and “neutral” like yourself. Dude, this year all your castles will go down. Daddy’s boy Stroll kept you “legend” at bay for 40 laps. Stay tuned for the whole season.

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