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Formula 1

Verstappen overtakes Leclerc to win F1 sprint race at Imola

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

Max Verstappen overtook Formula 1 championship leader Charles Leclerc on the penultimate lap to win the first sprint race of the 2022 season, securing first place on the grid for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Red Bull man Verstappen lost out to Leclerc’s Ferrari at the start, but had better pace in the closing stages of the 21-lap mini-race and put it to good use.

Off the line, Verstappen’s getaway was not just poor enough for Leclerc to clear him almost immediately but also for Norris to challenge for second, albeit Verstappen – who sarcastically blamed “lovely gear sync” for the bad start – did manage to stay ahead of the Brit by braking slightly later into Turn 1.

Right behind them, a Perez lunge down the inside of Turn 1 first led to minor contact between him and Ricciardo, and then created a small touch between the latter and Magnussen – which permitted Perez to overtake Ricciardo for fifth exiting the corner.

All cars involved escaped major damage, but the same could not be said for Guanyu Zhou further into the lap, the Alfa Romeo rookie getting pitched sideways by Pierre Gasly while trying to pass him around the outside of Piratella. “Of course, you can’t stay there!” was Gasly’s reaction on the radio, with Zhou out on the spot after hitting the wall and the Frenchman having to make a pitstop.

The safety car was withdrawn after four laps, Leclerc nailing the restart and right away breaking out of Verstappen’s DRS range, with the gap between the pair stabilising at just over a second from there on.

Yet with five laps to go Verstappen – spurred on by his race engineer telling him of graining on Leclerc’s front right tyre – got back within a second of the Monegasque and began to mount consistent pressure, which at the start of the penultimate lap translated into a show-stopper pass around the outside of Tamburello.

He went on to win by three seconds, securing eighth points to Leclerc’s seven – with the points tally for the sprints revised this season.

Behind the pair, Perez made his way through to third place, making light work of first Magnussen and then Norris with DRS passes on the main straight, both completed well before the braking zone.

Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz, who had started 10th and was eighth during the safety car, likewise made easy work of progressing through the field to complete the top four.

Norris and Daniel Ricciardo made up the top six for McLaren, Ricciardo working his way past Magnussen with a pass down the inside of Tamburello.

The Dane was one of just three drivers to run mediums rather than softs, and was overtaken by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas late on, settling for the single point for eighth place – with Bottas having previously fought past Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

The two Mercedes drivers both lost positions at the start and found themselves stuck in a DRS train led by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

Russell eventually cleared Vettel and reclaimed his 11th place, but Hamilton came up short and will start 14th.

Sprint Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Gap Best Time
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m19.154s
2 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +2.975s 1m19.044s
3 Sergio Pérez Red Bull +4.721s 1m19.012s
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari +17.578s 1m19.251s
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes +24.561s 1m20.03s
6 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +27.74s 1m20.328s
7 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +28.133s 1m20.219s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari +30.712s 1m20.557s
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +32.278s 1m20.639s
10 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +33.773s 1m20.567s
11 George Russell Mercedes +36.284s 1m20.756s
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull +38.298s 1m20.909s
13 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +40.177s 1m21.044s
14 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +41.459s 1m20.663s
15 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes +42.91s 1m20.948s
16 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault +43.517s 1m20.995s
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull +43.794s 1m20.599s
18 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes +48.871s 1m21.02s
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +52.017s 1m21.437s
Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 0s
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