Rolex Emilia Romagna GP
April 22 - April 24, 2022
Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari
Race Winner
Max Verstappen
2 Pits
Free Practice 1
Free Practice 2
Sprint Qualifying

Max Verstappen wins at Imola as Ferrari falters

IMOLA, Italy -- Red Bull's Max Verstappen secured victory at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as rivals Ferrari suffered a nightmare home race with Charles Leclerc dropping from third to sixth in the final ten laps and Carlos Sainz crashing out of the race on lap one.

After dropping behind Sergio Perez at the start, Leclerc looked locked on for a third place finish behind the two Red Bulls only to make a mistake on lap 54 at Variante Alta and spin his Ferrari into the barriers on the outside of the circuit.

Leclerc was able to keep the car running but dropped to ninth position when he made a pit stop for repairs before recovering to sixth in the remaining laps.

After the race, Leclerc radioed his team and simply said: "Sorry, sorry. Ah f---!"

The result, which also saw Red Bull take its first one-two victory of the season, means Verstappen closed the gap to Leclerc to 27 points in the championship after suffering two retirements in the opening three races of the season. Leclerc's mistake also allowed McLaren to take its first podium of the season, with Lando Norris securing third behind the Red Bulls.

After struggling for performance throughout the weekend, George Russell salvaged fourth place for Mercedes after holding off Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas in the final laps. Leclerc finished sixth after passing Yuki Tsunoda, Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen following his late pit stop. Lance Stroll took the final point on offer in tenth.

Max Verstappen celebrates a crucial win at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen celebrates a crucial win at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The race started in wet conditions, with Leclerc losing a position to Perez on the run down to the first corner. Teammate Sainz was in fourth position when he was hit by Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren at the first corner and spun into the gravel where his race ended.

A brief safety car period bunched the pack up, but Verstappen's lead never looked under threat as Perez held off the advances of Leclerc behind. On lap 17, drivers started to pit for slick tyres and by lap 20 the entire field had swapped from intermediates to medium tyres to make the most of a dry line.

Lewis Hamilton, who had struggled for performance all weekend, saw himself shuffled down the order when Esteban Ocon's Alpine was released into his path in the pit lane. He ended up stuck behind Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri in 14th place, where he remained until the end of the race when he was elevated to 13th thanks to a penalty for Ocon's unsafe release.

After the race, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff radioed Hamilton to say "Sorry for what you have had to drive today, I know it is undriveable."

The next Formula One race of the season takes place in Miami in two weeks' time.