Verstappen Overtakes Leclerc to Win Sprint at Imola

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates after he clocking in the fastest time on Saturday during the sprint race at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari racetrack, in Imola, Italy.

As Formula One rolled into the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy, it was Max Verstappen who stood atop the podium after passing Charles Leclerc on the penultimate lap during the sprint race on Saturday.

Verstappen, who finished first during qualifying on Friday, started the sprint race in pole position but was quickly overtaken by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in the opening lap, a move that saw Ferrari’s hometown fans erupting in celebration.

However, the celebrations were short-lived as Max Verstappen persistently pursued Leclerc passing him as they headed into the Tamburello, leaving LeClerc and Ferrari to settle for second. The victory was exactly what Verstappen needed to secure the pole position for Sunday’s race and hopefully, the boost he needed to reignite his season.

The Red Bull driver finished the sprint 2.975 seconds ahead of Leclerc’s Ferrari and 4.721 ahead of his teammate, Sergio Pérez. During post-race interviews, Verstappen acknowledged that “The start was very bad”, before adding,

“I don’t know exactly what happened or why it was so bad but after that we had to stay calm. Initially, it looked like Charles had more pace but I think he ran out of tyres and we could close the gap and make the move. I know maybe tomorrow it might be different. But today it worked out for us.”


Unfortunately, the one point Verstappen earned for the sprint win did little to reduce the points gap between him and Leclerc. While it reduced the gap to 45 points, he still earned himself a front row to the start of Sunday’s race, and with Carlos Sainz Jr. jumping ahead of George Russell, the Ferrari drivers are 1st and 3rd in the standings, respectively.

“It’s still a front row start, we struggled with the tyres at the end, so we need to analyse that for tomorrow. The main race is tomorrow and we need to make sure that we are ready. We will work and come back stronger tomorrow.”

Leclerc’s teammate, Carlos Sainz has a rough start to the sprint but still managed a fourth place finish after he was bumped down to10th on the grid for the sprint as a result of crashing during Friday’s qualifying session. Finishing in fifth was McLaren’s Lando Norris and in sixth, was his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, and rounding out the top 10 was Valtteri Bottas, Magnussen, Fernando Alonso and Mick Schumacher.

Noticeably absent from the top 10 was Lewis Hamilton, whose lacklustre season continues to cause problems for the seven-time world champion. Hamilton, who will start 14th on Sunday alluded to their troubles post-race.

“We haven’t got it right this year but everyone is working hard as they can to correct it. We stick together, we try to motivate everyone. We are obviously not fighting for the championship but we are fighting to understand the car and improve and progress through the year. That’s all we can hope for right now.”

So far this season, it seems Ferrari has finally found the secret of success to ending their three-year streak of bad luck. This is especially welcomed by Ferrari fans, who are anticipating LeClerc to extend his two out of three race win at Imola on Sunday.

The Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, named after Ferrari’s founder and his son, Enzo and Dino Ferrari was absent from the F1 schedule for fourteen years due to Formula One wanting to fit in the Belgian GP into the schedule.

However, after negotiations with F1 resulted in Imola returning to the schedule in 2020, this Sunday’s Italian Gran Prix race will be the first time fans will be able to attend and cheer for the beloved Ferrari team. With over 120,000 tickets sold for the three-day race event, the energy will be electrifying, to say the least.

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