Verstappen surges to Imola success as Leclerc makes costly spin

By Sports Desk April 24, 2022

Max Verstappen surged to victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix and gained ground on Charles Leclerc, who had a costly late spin. 

Having given up on catching race leader Verstappen, Leclerc pitted from third for soft tyres in a bid to take the extra point for the fastest lap away from the Dutchman. 

However, the Ferrari driver lost control at the Variante Alta and sustained damage that forced him to pit again – enabling Lando Norris to take third. 

Leclerc dropped to ninth but recovered to sixth as his championship lead was cut by 18 points, with Sergio Perez making it a Red Bull one-two. 

Verstappen started on pole following his success in Saturday's sprint race and he never surrendered that position, though Leclerc slid down from second to fourth on a wet opening lap. 

The safety car was deployed after Carlos Sainz span out following contact with Daniel Ricciardo, who was nudged from behind by Valtteri Bottas at the Variante Tamburello. 

Leclerc got past Lando Norris on lap eight but was already six seconds adrift of Verstappen, with the Dutchman only building on his lead after changing for slick tyres on lap 20. 

Perez, who quickly regained second after losing out to Leclerc in the pits, produced some excellent defence to keep the Ferrari at bay despite a trip across the grass before DRS was belatedly enabled just after the halfway point. 

Leclerc set the fastest lap but ended up losing track position when he span into the barriers on lap 53, with Verstappen taking the extra point after changing to soft tyres. 

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    Hamilton may have endured a difficult campaign to date, lagging as he does 98 points behind leader Verstappen, but he boasts an impressive record on his home turf.

    The 37-year-old has won the British Grand Prix eight times and could become the driver to have won the most races at a single Grand Prix with victory this weekend.

    Mercedes, meanwhile, have recorded eight of the last nine wins at Silverstone, while also taking eight of the last nine poles.

    McLaren driver Norris looks good value to challenge for a second podium of 2022 after a surprising rise up the timesheets, having finished 15th last time out in Canada.

    "As good as it looked, it is still difficult to put things together and be consistent but I am happy," he said.

    "The car seems to be in a decent place, at least a little better than we were expecting."

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