The FIA Formula One World Championship opened its European season with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola. The weekend featured the season’s first sprint race. Though, the sprint returned the same front row as qualifying, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen starting Sunday’s race first and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc second.
The race would be effected by a heavy downpour after Formula 2’s feature race and before the F1 Grand Prix start. Every team started the race with intermediate tires fitted to their cars to deal with the water atop the racing surface.
At the start, Charles Leclerc had a dreadful launch as he was overtaken by both Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez and McLaren’s Lando Norris on the holeshot run to Tamburello. Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo made contact in the first corner, spinning Sainz into the gravel. The safety car had to be deployed to recover the beached Ferrari.
Leclerc spent the rest of the race recovering from the poor start. On lap 50 of 63, Scuderia Ferrari attempted a Hail Mary play to put Leclerc in a position to snatch second place from Pérez. The team put the Monégasque driver onto soft compound tires. Leclerc fell behind Lando Norris after the pit exit but recovered his position on the next lap. Red Bull pitted both its drivers for softs to cover off the stop, but it didn’t matter. In a matter of laps, Leclerc jumped his car hard over the curbs at the Variante Alta in pursuit of Pérez. He lost control of his Ferrari and spun it up against the barrier. Leclerc was limped back to the pit lane and salvaged a sixth-place finish.
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Meanwhile, at Mercedes, the defending World Constructors’ Champion continues to struggle to wrangle performance out of its car this season. George Russell had an excellent drive to finish fifth after starting 11th. Lewis Hamilton drove nearly the entire race outside of the points-paying positions, and he couldn’t pass Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly to save his life.
Max Verstappen won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to cap off a truly dominant weekend. The reigning world champion won pole on Friday, won the sprint race on Saturday, had the fastest lap and led every lap on Sunday. He even won the Driver of the Day vote. There was no accolade left on the table by Max Verstappen.
Honorable mention to Aston Martin as the British team scored its first points of the season with both Sebastian Vettel finishing eighth and Lance Stroll finishing tenth. The double-points finish relegates Williams to the bottom of the Constructors’ standings.
Race Results – Top 10
- Max Verstappen
- Sergio Pérez
- Lando Norris
- George Russell
- Valtteri Bottas
- Charles Leclerc
- Yuki Tsunoda
- Sebastian Vettel
- Kevin Magnussen
- Lance Stroll
Charles Leclerc still leads the World Drivers’ Championship over Verstappen by 27 points. Formula One will return in two weeks for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.