Ferrari woes make it easy for Max Verstappen: 2022 Emilia Romagna GP lap-by-lap


Max Verstappen took maximum points from Imola after winning the Emilia Romagna GP, setting fastest lap and winning the sprint race, rival Charles Leclerc crashed in pursuit

Max Verstappen leads the 2022 Emilia Romagna GP as Carlos Sainz spins in background

Verstappen leads on lap 1 as Sainz spins out in the background

Remko de Waal/ANP via Getty Images

The road to victory was paved for Max Verstappen in Imola, as Carlos Sainz crashed out on the first lap and Charles Leclerc’s challenge evaporated when the Ferrari driver pushed too hard and spun into a wall.

It left Verstappen to cross the finish line with a 16.5sec advantage over team-mate Sergio Perez, having set the fastest lap and won Saturday’s sprint race. “It was a very lonely Sunday,” chuckled the Dutchman over the radio.

It earned him the maximum 34 championship points, and he also lapped Lewis Hamilton who ended the race 13th. His miserable day, in a Mercedes that team boss Toto Wolff described as “undriveable” can be summed up by an unsuccessful battle to pass Pierre Gasly which lasted for most of the race.

Ferrari’s woes promoted Lando Norris to third; the McLaren driver best of the rest and on the podium at Imola for the second year running.

His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was out of contention at the start, having sent Sainz into retirement with a tap at the Tamburello chicane, just after the start.

All cars began the race on intermediate tyres after rain earlier in the day, but the red smoke of the tifosi couldn’t be dampened as the grid lined up.

Verstappen leads at the start of the 2022 Emilia Romagna GP

Verstappen leads Perez at the start

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

There was no repeat of the sprint race, where Leclerc stormed into the lead: the Ferrari driver appeared to be on the wrong side of the grid as Verstappen maintained his lead and third-placed Perez moved in front.

Sainz started behind him on the left-hand side of the grid and also lost out to Norris, who started fifth. The McLaren drew alongside the Ferrari and moved in front at Tamburello

Ricciardo tried to follow suit and had the inside line into the chicane’s first left-hand corner. But he drifted wide from the apex and clipped Sainz’s left rear tyre, sending the Ferrari spinning into the gravel and beached — out early for the second race in a row.

Bottas was also affected, losing position as he bumped into the Riccardo/Sainz tangle.

Stewards decided there was no investigation necessary but Sainz was clear on who he thought was to blame: “Daniel hit me,” he said.

Daniel Ricciardo hits Carlos Sainz in the 2022 Emilia Romagna GP

Ricciardo and Sainz exit the asphalt

Florent Gooden / DPPI

As the safety car was deployed, both Red Bulls led from Norris and Leclerc. Kevin Magnussen found himself in fifth after starting eighth, while George Russell had climbed from 11th to sixth, having splashed through the puddles and over the kerbs on the inside while exiting Tamburello.

That tactic didn’t pay off for Mick Schumacher, who followed the same line and span, his rear wheel denting the sidepod of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine as he swung round.

He was dropped to the back, just ahead of Ricciardo, who pitted after escaping the gravel.

As the cars ran behind the safety car, Leclerc radioed in to say that the track was drying up but nobody was ready to brave slicks.

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Lap 5 brought the restart and no major position changes at the front — not from a lack of effort on Leclerc’s front. He was harrying Norris from the off, as the Red Bulls began disappearing onto the distance; Verstappen more than 3sec ahead of Norris by the start of lap 6

Fernando Alonso was slipping back through the field with sidepod damage from the Schumacher impact. He lost eighth position to Sebastian Vettel and bodywork flew off as he was being passed by Lewis Hamilton. He pitted into retirement on lap 7.

Charles Leclerc made the move on Norris, going into Tamburello on lap 8, already 3sec behind Perez and 6sec ahead of Verstappen.

George Russell was looking to move up further on lap 11, looming large in fifth-placed Magnussen’s mirrors. After a lap of ducking and weaving, the Mercedes raced ahead in the Tamburello braking zone on lap 12, but overshot the left-hander and Magnussen reclaimed the lead. But there was no response in the run-up to Variante Alta later in the lap: Russell pulled alongside, on the inside and was past.

Magnussen’s slide down the rankings continued on lap 14, as Bottas overhauled him on the run to Rivazza, claiming the inside line and sixth place.

Lap 15, Verstappen complained of sliding, but was now 6.5sec ahead of Perez, who was slowly being caught by Leclerc — now 1.2sec behind.

Yuki Tsunoda’s ninth place was being eyed by the following Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton on lap 16, the trio running on behind the other but with apparently little prospect of getting past.

Daniel Ricciardo was the first to jump to slicks on lap 17, despite more light rain being predicted.

Asked his thoughts on changing to slicks, Hamilton said: “It’s still too early”.

But as Ricciardo started setting personal best times on medium tyres, the cars flooded in. Gasly switched on lap 18, as did Vettel and Albon.

Lap 19 brought Perez in from second, along with the majority of the grid — Verstappen and Leclerc were among those who remained out for a further lap.

Amid the hubbub, Esteban Ocon was released into the path of Lewis Hamilton and the pair made slight contact, with Ocon retaining the advantage, although a 5sec penalty imposed by the stewards would later be imposed on the Alpine driver.

A problem with Bottas’s front right cost the Alfa Romeo driver several seconds, but he retained sixth.

By lap 20, everyone had switched to slicks, leaving Max Verstappen in the lead but Perez sitting third after a slow warm-up lap.

But his older, warmer tyres were more than a match for Leclerc’s and he re-took second place.

He wouldn’t be comfortable for long. By lap 23, Leclerc was right underneath his rear wing, the continued lack of DRS seemingly the only factor that was preventing him from going past.

Back in midfield, Tsunoda was now at the head of a longer train of cars, the ninth-placed AlphaTauri barely ahead of Stroll, Ocon, Albon and Gasly. Following these cars, with less than a second between each, was Hamilton languishing in 14th.

By lap 27, impatience was starting to tell, as Lance Stroll challenged Tsunoda, before then being attacked by Ocon but there was no change in order, with Hamilton also unable to find a way past Gasly.

Perez was lucky to hold on to second after a trip across the grass at Variante Alta, but Leclerc still couldn’t find a way through despite closing up.

Lap 30 saw Verstappen start to lap the backmarkers. The Red Bull was 9.5sec ahead of Perez, who had successful resisted Leclerc’s Ferrari, which was running 1.5sec behind.

Those three looked to have wrapped up the podium places, with Norris 14.5sec behind Leclerc and Russell 6.5sec further back — his balance affected after a problem adjusting his front wing flap during his pitstop.

DRS was enabled on lap 34, but it brought little relief for Hamilton, less than a second behind Gasly, as the Alpha Tauri was also within a second of Albon ahead, and got the low drag benefit too.

He was still there on lap 40 when he was shown the blue flags for the charging Verstappen, who lapped last year’s title rival, with a 12sec lead.

DRS also appeared to come too late for Leclerc who could have done with some more assistance when Perez went off earlier. “Plan D, how does it look?” asked Leclerc on lap 44 as he remained in third, 3sec behind Perez. “Not good. Stay out until the end,” was the response.

Further back, Lewis Hamilton also seemed to be stranded in 14th despite closing right up to Gasly on the approach to Tamburello, on both lap 45 and lap 46, he could not find a way past.

Lewis Hamilton battles with Pierre Gasly in the 2022 Emilia Romagna GP

No way past Gasly for Hamilton

Florent Gooden / DPPI

Leclerc pitted again on lap 50 for the soft tyre, in what may have been Plan D. It dropped him behind Norris and put him 45sec behind Verstappen, but Red Bull covered the move by pitting Perez, who remained second when he emerged on soft tyres on lap 51.

It didn’t take long for Leclerc to pass Norris on the same lap, and his pace saw him close 5sec on Verstappen. The reigning champion was brought in for soft tyres on lap 52, coming out 13sec ahead of Perez who faced a charging Leclerc just 0.7sec behind.

Setting the fastest lap, the Ferrari driver looked to have the bit between his teeth, but he pushed too far on lap 54, clattering over the yellow sausage kerb at Variante Alta and span into the wall.

“I was too greedy and paid the price,” admitted Leclerc.

Despite front wing damage, Leclerc rejoined but pitted for a new nose, dropping him to ninth, behind Kevin Magnussen, who he rapidly dispatched.

Further ahead, Tsunoda, who was no longer holding cars up behind him, passed Vettel on lap 55 to move into sixth.

Ahead of the AlphaTauri was Bottas, in search of the fourth place occupied by his Mercedes replacement Russell. The Finn feinted a move into Tamburello on lap 60 but remained behind.

Leclerc continued his recovery by passing Vettel at the same spot, then set about closing the 3sec gap to Tsunoda, going past on lap 62.

Verstappen reported a few drops of rain on the same lap, but nothing was going to prevent him taking the chequered flag with a commanding win that cut his deficit in the championship from 46 to 27 points.

Hamilton finally made progress after the flag: when Ocon’s penalty for his unsafe pit release was applied, the Alpine driver moved down to 14th, promoting Albon to 11th, with Gasly and Hamilton also moving up a position.


2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix results

Position Driver Team Time Points
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1hr 32min 07.986sec 26*
2 Sergio Perez Red Bull +16.527sec 18
3 Lando Norris McLaren +34.834sec 15
4 George Russell Mercedes +42.506sec 12
5 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo +43.181sec 10
6 Charles Leclerc Ferrari +56.072sec 8
7 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +1min 01.110sec 6
8 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin +1min 10.892sec 4
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas +1min 15.260sec 2
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1 lap 1
11 Alex Albon Williams +1 lap
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1 lap
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1 lap
14 Esteban Ocon Alpine +1 lap**
15 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1 lap
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams +1 lap
17 Mick Schumacher Haas +1 lap
18 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren +1 lap
19 Fernando Alonso Alpine DNF
20 Carlos Sainz Ferrari DNF

*Includes additional point for fastest lap
** 5sec penalty applied after the finish