Verstappen wins Leclerc duel to prevail in Imola sprint

By Sports Desk April 23, 2022

Max Verstappen recovered from a slow start to Saturday's sprint race at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to prevail and ensure he will start Sunday's race in first.

The Tifosi at Imola are hoping for a weekend-long celebration amid Ferrari's resurgence, led by Charles Leclerc, in 2022.

He was on course to give them something to cheer in the sprint, getting past pole-sitter Verstappen and, for most of the 21 laps, looking set to claim the maximum eight points.

But Leclerc's front right tyre grained in the final laps as Verstappen closed quickly in an impressive Red Bull, the reigning world champion retaking the lead on the penultimate lap to claim victory.

Leclerc extended his championship lead to 40 points as Mercedes' George Russell finished outside the eight points places on another dismal day for the Silver Arrows, while Ferrari's Carlos Sainz moved into second in the drivers' standing as he took fourth behind Red Bull's Sergio Perez.

An abundance of wheelspin at the start saw Verstappen surrender top spot to Leclerc and he was not close to the Ferrari at a safety car restart following a collision between Pierre Gasly and Zhou Guanyu.

But, as Leclerc's right front faded, Verstappen struck a blow for Red Bull as he got himself within a second at the DRS zone on the start-finish straight and swept around the outside of the Ferrari into the Tamburello chicane.

Perez got himself up from seventh to third while Sainz improved from 10th to fourth after his crash in qualifying, with the McLarens of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo claiming fifth and sixth.

The final points places went to Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas and Haas' Kevin Magnussen, with Russell and Lewis Hamilton non-factors who will start 11th and 14th respectively.

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  • Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart Verstappen: I felt like the car was falling apart

    Max Verstappen says his Red Bull felt like it was "falling apart" in a frustrating day for the Formula One championship leader at Silverstone.

    Verstappen took the lead from pole sitter Carlos Sainz after the Ferrari driver made an unforced error and went wide, but his advantage lasted just a few laps after then suffering structural damage.

    The defending champion ran over a piece of debris and believed he had suffered a puncture, but a pit stop did not solve the problem and it was later revealed he had sustained significant structural damage to the floor of his Red Bull.

    That left Verstappen unable to fight his way up the order and instead had to see off pressure from Haas driver Mick Schumacher, who secured a first points finish in F1, and the Dutch ace says the incident "destroyed" the side of his car.

    "I'd just gone into the lead because of Carlos' 'moment' and then a few corners later, there was a piece of debris on the racing line," he told Sky Sports.

     

    "As soon as I arrived there [on the line], I could not drastically turn left or right, so I tried to hit it head on. Normally, it would just get pushed away, but this time it went in my floor and destroyed the whole left-hand side of my floor.

    "Within two corners, I felt like the car was falling apart. I thought initially I had a puncture, which was not the case, but even after that the car was a handful to drive."

    The issues saw Verstappen's lead over team-mate Sergio Perez in the championship drop to 34 points, with the Mexican driver coming second, but Verstappen believes the result was still a positive one after the issues he sustained.

    "I think overall to finish seventh with that car, it was still a good result. It's better than zero points that's for sure," he added.

  • Nissany punished as Hauger car lands on him in shocking Silverstone crash Nissany punished as Hauger car lands on him in shocking Silverstone crash

    Formula Two chiefs found Israeli driver Roy Nissany "wholly responsible" for the horror crash that saw a rival driver land on top of his car in Sunday's British Grand Prix.

    Nissany, a 27-year-old who races for DAMS and is a member of the Williams driver academy, escaped largely unscathed from the dramatic incident thanks to the Halo driver protection device on his car.

    Moments after making an error and running wide at Silverstone's Stowe corner, Nissany's DAMS made contact with the Prema Racing car of 19-year-old Norwegian Dennis Hauger, who was knocked off the track, before Nissany shuffled back into the pack.

    His driving was heavily criticised by race bosses, and it almost had disastrous consequences when Nissany turned the Vale sharp corner that followed, as Hauger's out-of-control car came bounding over a kerb and landed on top of the DAMS that had just knocked the teenager off course.

    Fortunately for all concerned, there was no tragic outcome.

    Nissany wrote on Twitter: "Thank you all so much for the concern. I'm ok, it’s part of racing and luckily the halo was there for me. We'll recover and come back stronger for Austria."

    Yet Formula Two race stewards imposed a punishment that will take effect in next week's race at Spielberg, handing Nissany a five-place grid penalty and saying he had "fully accepted blame".

    In a statement, they said: "Having considered the matter extensively, the stewards determined that car 16 [Nissany's DAMS] left the track at turn 15 after making an error.

    "The driver rejoined the course at the exit of the corner and rather than focusing on a safe merge into traffic, made an unpredictable and unsafe move to defend his position that initiated the contact with car 1 (Hauger's Prema). Car 16 was wholly responsible for the collision and fully accepted blame for the incident."

    The stewards' statement confirmed the five-place grid penalty for next week in Austria.

  • 'There was a lot going on, yeah?' – Carlos Sainz breaks his F1 duck with stunning Silverstone victory 'There was a lot going on, yeah?' – Carlos Sainz breaks his F1 duck with stunning Silverstone victory

    Carlos Sainz hailed an "amazing" first Formula One victory as the Spaniard finally earned top step on the podium by winning a dramatic British Grand Prix.

    His Ferrari took the glory at Silverstone, some 12 years after Sainz won on the track in his fledgling Formula BMW days, a world away from the elite level of motorsport.

    The 27-year-old overtook team-mate Charles Leclerc after a safety car delay, which followed a lap-39 breakdown for Esteban Ocon.

    While Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso fought for the lower steps of the podium, Sainz stayed out of trouble and powered to the chequered flag.

    This was his 150th grand prix, and despite achieving a flood of podium finishes, a win had been elusive until now.

    "It's amazing. A first race win, 150 races later, with Ferrari in Silverstone. I cannot ask for more," Sainz said.

    "It's a very special day, a day I shall never forget. Lewis was on it today, I heard, but we managed to hold on and I'm incredibly happy.

    "It was not easy. I struggled quite a bit with the balance, especially on the first stint with the medium tyre, Max [Verstappen] was forcing us to push a lot through the high speed. I opened the front left, but even with all that I stayed believing that it could happen. I needed to stay in the race.

    "All of a sudden the safety car gave me the opportunity to get back on it, and we did it. You can imagine the nerves on the safety car restart knowing it was my chance and getting it done and then the win."

    Reflecting on the drama behind him, Sainz said: "There was a lot going on, yeah?

    "Silverstone has been a bit of a special place for me. I had a first ever race win for me in Formula BMW in 2010, first pole position here back in 2010, and suddenly 12 years later I achieve exactly the same but in Formula One with Ferrari."

    Perez took second place, with Hamilton third

    Mexican driver Perez suffered damage to the front wing of his car on the first lap, finding himself sandwiched between Verstappen and Leclerc, but recovered admirably from having to dive into the pits for repairs.

    "It was a great comeback," Perez said. "We didn't give up, and we kept pushing. Then the opportunity came at the end, and we took it.

    "It was a great fight with Charles and then with Lewis. It was an epic final lap, and it was a good fight within us."

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