Max Verstappen Holds Off Leclerc to Win F1 Imola Sprint Race

Max Verstappen lost the lead to championship leader Charles Leclerc at the start of the Imola sprint race on Saturday but kept putting pressure on the Ferrari driver. When Leclerc began to falter with tire wear, the reigning World Champion pounced with two laps to go and took a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.

Verstappen wasn’t happy to have given up the lead at all though, and called his start “terrible.” He added: “It took a while to try to put the pressure on but I think we were a bit better on our tires by the end of the race. We were pretty much flat out, you know?”

Charles Leclerc, who will start the race in the same position he qualified on Friday, wasn’t too unhappy about being runner-up. He said his team would look at the tire degradation to make sure it wouldn’t impact race pace. He mostly spoke about the Ferrari home fans in Italy: “It is incredible. Every time we are in Italy we have so much support and it is amazing to see so many people in the stands.”

Verstappen’s teammate used his sprint race to the fullest and climbed from seventh to third. Sergio Perez was unhappy after qualifying, where red flags kept him from putting in his fastest lap, but said, “Today we managed to recover, and I think we are in a great position for the fight tomorrow.”

Perez is hoping for an unpopular race result with the tifosi Ferrari fans: “It will be ideal to get a one-two: that will be great for us but probably not for the tifosi – but we will try.”

McLaren managed fifth and sixth with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo respectively. After a difficult start to the season, with neither car starting in the top ten during the opening two rounds, it’s a result that continues the team’s momentum from Australia. Despite losing two spots from his third-place qualifying result on Friday, Lando was all smiles getting out of the car.

After a best-ever qualifying, both Haas drivers will start Sunday’s race in the top ten, with Magnussen eighth and Schumacher tenth. It’s the first time two Haas cars will start in the top ten since Brazil 2019.

Team principal Guenther Steiner said was unhappy with losing so many positions in the sprint race, but said: “All in all, we scored a point which is a positive and Mick is up two positions for tomorrow. We need to find a slightly better balance of the car and then try to get some points as well tomorrow.”

On the other hand, neither Mercedes could find the top ten. Said Lewis Hamilton, who will start fourteenth: “It is what it is and it is what we have. We haven’t got it right this year but everyone is working hard to correct it.”

Formula 1 Rolex Gran Premio Del Made in Italy E Dell’Emilia-Romagna 2022 Sprint Race

1 1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING RBPT 21 30:39.567 8
2 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 21 +2.975s 7
3 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING RBPT 21 +4.721s 6
4 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 21 +17.578s 5
5 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 21 +24.561s 4
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 21 +27.740s 3
7 77 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 21 +28.133s 2
8 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 21 +30.712s 1
9 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT 21 +32.278s 0
10 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 21 +33.773s 0
11 63 George Russell MERCEDES 21 +36.284s 0
12 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI RBPT 21 +38.298s 0
13 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 21 +40.177s 0
14 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 21 +41.459s 0
15 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 21 +42.910s 0
16 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 21 +43.517s 0
17 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI RBPT 21 +43.794s 0
18 23 Alexander Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 21 +48.871s 0
19 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 21 +52.017s 0
Owen Johnson