Verstappen passes Leclerc late to claim Sprint victory in Imola

Perez 3rd, Sainz 4th


By Olivier Ferret

23 April 2022 - 17:20
Verstappen passes Leclerc late to (...)

F1 world champion Max Verstappen passed 2022 Championship leader Charles Leclerc at the start of the penultimate lap of a thrilling Sprint in Imola to take victory, eight points and pole position for tomorrow’s FIA Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Sergio Pérez finished third ahead of Carlos Sainz after both drivers recovered from difficult Friday qualifying sessions.

Red Bull driver Verstappen started the first Sprint from pole position but when the lights went out at the start he lost out to the fast starting Leclerc and the Ferrari driver powered past the Dutchman on the run to Tamburello. Behind them, Pérez made a good start from P7 on the grid to sweep past Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo in the first corners. He then closed on Haas’s Kevin Magnussen but the Dane aggressively defended his position and was later shown a black and white flag for weaving on the straight.

However, even as that battle was developing the race was neutralised. Further back Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu tangled with AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly at Piratello and the Chinese driver spun into the barriers. As Gasly limped back to the pits for repairs, the Safety Car was released.

The SC left the track at the end of lap four and Leclerc managed the restart well to keep Verstappen at bay, with McLaren’s Lando Norris third ahead of Magnussen and Pérez.

When DRS was enabled at the end of lap seven, Pérez got a good exit out of the final corner and he powered past the Haas as they started the next lap to take fourh place. Three laps late the Mexican closed in on McLaren’s Lando Norris and eased past the Briton under DRS. Behind Norris, Ricciardo got past Magnussen.

With 10 laps left Leclerc found himself 1.5s ahead of Verstappen, with Pérez 6.1s further back. Norris was now fourth, ahead of Ricciardo and Sainz who had also passed Magnussen. The second Ferrari driver was on the move, however, and at the start of lap 14 he used DRS to comfortably power Ricciardo.

At the front, Leclerc began to suffer with graining tyres and Verstappen began to erase the gap. On lap 16 the Red Bull driver pulled into DRS range of the Ferrari. At the end of lap 19 the world champion got the better exit out of Rivazza 2 and as they crossed the line to start the penultimate lap Verstappen moved to the outside and passed the Ferrari in the first chicane to take the lead, the win and eight championship points.

Checo crossed the line in third, just 1.7s behind Leclerc, while fourth place went to Sainz who had demoted Norris to fifth in the closing stages. Ricciardo finished in sixth place ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, while Magnussen’s slide down the order halted in P8, for which he claimed the last point on offer.

01 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 21 laps - 30m39.567s 0
02 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 +2.975 0
03 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 +4.721 0
04 Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1-75 +17.578 0
05 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 +24.561 0
06 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 +27.740 0
07 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 +28.133 0
08 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 +30.712 0
09 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 +32.278 0
10 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 +33.773 0
11 George Russell Mercedes W13 +36.284 0
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 +38.298 0
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 +40.177 0
14 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 +41.459 0
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 +42.910 0
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 +43.517 0
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 +43.794 1
18 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 +48.871 0
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 +52.017 0
20 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 DNF 0

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