A very lovely Sunday - Max Verstappen Wins 2022 Imola GP
Max Verstappen Rounds off A Very Lovely Sunday With Imola GP Victory
Formula One

Ferrari arrived at the first European race on the F1 calendar on the back of an impressive start to the season thus far. The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, formerly known as the Imola Grand Prix, is home from home for Ferrari. The brand is revered to almost Papal status. Ferrari is Italy and Italy is Ferrari. Inevitably the Tifosi (Ferrari fans) expect a great deal from the Scuderia. And Leclerc has delivered in the first three races with 2 wins and a podium already in the bag. But now the real work begins and it didn’t go too well at the start of the race as second-placed Leclerc fluffed his getaway and fell down to 4th.

Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz fundamentally didn’t deliver. Starting from 4th on the grid his race ended in the gravel trap after crossing swords with the McLaren of Daniel Ricciardo. After a safety car interlude, Leclerc soon made his way into third with an easy pass on the McLaren of Lando Norris.

Thereafter Leclerc bided his time as the Red Bulls of Perez and Verstappen held firm on a wet/drying track. Mercedes’ troubles continued at Imola, however, George Russell found some pace and soon made his way up from 11th to 5th by lap 11. Teammate Lewis Hamilton was having no such luck and was held hostage in 11th for much of the race.

The race was rather processional at times. The first round of pitsops livened the interest of the Tifosi. Leclerc momentarily found himself in 2nd after making his first pitstop on lap 19. However Sergio Perez, on one lap warmer tyres, made easy work of wrestling 2nd away from Leclerc. Thereafter the Red Bull driver built up a safety net to stay ahead of the Ferrari.

Indeed, the Red Bulls were in control of the race with Verstappen 11 seconds clear of Perez at the halfway stage. Verstappen appeared to have more than enough pace in hand to fend off the interests of Leclerc. Disaster struck for the sole remaining Ferrari as an unforced error at the Variante Alta chicane by Leclerc sent his car hurtling into the barrier on lap 52.

Leclerc was required to pit in order to change a damaged front wing. But the real damage was dropping out of a secure podium position and down to 9th. Leclerc gathered his thoughts and eventually clawed his way back up the order. At the front, Verstappen built up a comfortable lead over teammate Sergio Perez.

Leclerc eventually recovered to finish 6th, however an unforced error while trying to close in on 2nd was not on the menu today for Ferrari. Lando Norris relieved Leclerc of third with a strong performance in P3. However, it was an ominous and strong performance by Red Bull at the Emilia Romagna circuit.

On this form, it appears that Red Bull is beginning to gain momentum with a full-scale assault for the championship. Ferrari looked strong in the first three races, today at the Emilia Romagna GP they are now on the back foot as Red Bull surges.

 A very lovely Sunday - Max Verstappen Wins 2022 Imola GP
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