The divisive sprint race has returned with the first of three appearances during the 2022 Formula One season. The sprint at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was also the debut of a few changes to the format. For the record books, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was credited with the pole position statistic for placing first in Friday qualifying, with the physical spot on the race grid still being in jeopardy during the sprint race. Points are also now offered to the top 8 finishers instead of just the podium-placed drivers.
Alongside Verstappen on the front row was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari driver beat the pole sitter in a drag race to the first corner and took the lead. Also at the start, Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez overtook both Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso to jump from 7th to 5th. Though, the field didn’t complete the first lap without incident.
The safety car was deployed on the first lap after contact between Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly. Zhou’s car was terminally damaged after he went into the barriers. Gasly was able to limp to pit lane to change his damaged wheel and front wing to finish the sprint.
The crucial moment of the sprint race was on the penultimate lap when Verstappen passed Leclerc into Tamburello, the first corner, for the first position on Sunday’s grid. Sergio Pérez brought his Red Bull home third. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was able to recover after crashing out of Q2 on Friday and starting 10th to finish 4th behind Pérez. The McLaren drivers managed to finish 5th and 6th.
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The Sprint race was pretty entertaining, with wheel-to-wheel action around the relatively narrow confines of Imola. While I do enjoy that there’s a competitive session on each day of the Grand Prix weekend, I fear that the Saturday sprint race is just putting the drivers into competitive running order before the race start on Sunday.
- Max Verstappen
- Charles Leclerc
- Sergio Pérez
- Carlos Sainz
- Lando Norris
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Valtteri Bottas
- Kevin Magnussen