Max Verstappen and Red Bull responded. Verstappen dominates the home game of rival Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel gets the first points of the season. Nothing works for record man Lewis Hamilton.
Max Verstappen talked calmly and relaxed about his perfect weekend in the raging Red Bull triumph at Ferrari Land.
Opponent Charles Leclerc wanted to sneak out of the Scuderia autohoma with a lid and a face mask as unfamiliar as possible, and the words of encouragement from the fans could no longer comfort the penitent Monegasque in Imola. “There are no excuses, I made a mistake I should not have made,” he said in Italy. “It is a shame.”
Leclerc without podium
Nearly 100,000 fans came, but after a Formula 1 race, the Scuderia tended to forget the red podium party. Leclerc could not cross the sixth place after a driving error. Carlos Sainz, whose contract was extended by Ferrari, after a few meters found his car in the gravel.
The world champion was there for that. In contrast to the changeable and quite bad weather, Verstappen could not have driven consistently better: place in qualifying, first place in the first sprint race of the season, first place in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with the most laps fast. After two retirements in the previous three races due to defects, the entire team was released respectively. All the more so as consistent rival Sergio Perez made perfect the double success against Lando Norris at McLaren.
Vettel gets the first points of the championship
It was not a chaos race as thought. But one with few losers, but also few winners. Sebastian Vettel calculated contrary to Mike Schumacher, who after two laps again lost the first hoped points in the first class of motorsport, was one of those lucky ones. Eighth place and thus the first points for the 34-year-old four-time world champion. “Everything was fine,” he said. “It’s only an eighth place, but for us it’s like a victory.”
After missing the first two races of the season due to a coronary infection and a completely deformed appearance in Melbourne two weeks ago, the mood boost comes at the right time. At Imola, Vettel once again made it clear that the continuation of his career depends on how this year will go.
Hamilton one of the biggest losers
Another multiple world champion was again one of the big losers. Lewis Hamilton struggled to finish in 13th place with Mercedes. “I apologize for the car he has to drive at the moment,” said team boss Toto Wolff. After all: Hamilton’s new teammate George Russell finished fourth in the second silver arrow.
Also because Leclerc wanted so much. “I crossed the border and paid the price for it,” said the winner of Bahrain and Australia. With the soft tires, he slid just before the end on the track still partially wet and spun with the car. After a slight contact of the gang, he had to pit again. Instead of at least splitting the Red Bull duo and securing second place as in Saudi Arabia, Leclerc lost the podium for the first time this year.
Verstappen is getting closer
He still clearly leads in the classification. But Verstappen is getting closer. Before the weekend in Italy, the Dutchman was fifth and had 46 points less than Leclerc. Thanks to Imola’s maximum performance with 34 points in total, Verstappen climbed to second place in the total. He now has 59 points, Leclerc 86. In theory, Verstappen could only get one point in Miami with a faster racing win and lap and a zero from Leclerc.
In Florida, pilots have to wait for temperatures to reach nearly 30 degrees. In Imola there were only 13. But Ferrari fever was still widespread in the crowded stands. But this decline steadily. Leclerc did not have a good start and was immediately passed over by Perez and Lando Norris to McLaren. Then Sainz-Aus. The security car had to leave. And after coming back, Verstappen defended the lead and Perez finished second with a lot of confidence. Strategic attempts to get Leclerc in position for a final attack after passing Norris also did not work. In opposite.
And after the others fought. Hamilton was overtaken by Verstappen after less than a third of the race distance. What a humiliation for the seven-time 37-year-old world champion. And Mick Schumacher also experienced what he did not want to experience. He secured tenth place in the sprint race. In the Grand Prix, this would be the first career point in formula 1 enough. But he rolled over from the start and crashed too far. “It’s a tough race for me,” he said. “In the beginning I lost everything. “After that, nothing worked.”
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