F1, Verstappen triumphs in Imola. Leclerc is wrong and is only sixth: “I’m sorry”

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The black cloud from Imola accompanied Ferrari throughout the weekend. The pole missed on Friday due to the red flags, the Sprint lost on Saturday on the penultimate lap due to the “graining”, the bad start yesterday of both reds on a still wet track that launched the Red Bulls towards the first double win of the season, a plelude of a much more than disappointing race. Max Verstappen conquers Santerno for the second season in a row and makes 2-2 (the victories in 2022) with Charles Leclerc, who threw away the podium with a mistake at the high variant while chasing Sergio Perez after the second pit stop. The overly aggressive passage on the curbs was fatal, the contact with the barriers forced him to change the front wing, returning to the track ninth at 54th of 63 laps. The final comeback didn’t bring him higher than 6th place. “Sorry guys,” he said over the radio. «We will learn from this – the answer from the pits -, stronger next time». Small consolation, perhaps, for Carlos Sainz, whose GP for the second consecutive time lasted after a few seconds: in Australia 2 laps, yesterday a curve, the time to get to the Tamburello and be pushed onto the gravel by Daniel Ricciardo. The gap in the standings from his teammate is however worrying.
The regrets of Ferrari
Leclerc, burned by Perez and Norris – who started fifth – at the start on intermediates, tried everything to change the fate of a marked race. After getting rid of the McLaren, following the first pit stop with the transition to slicks he was able to find himself in front of Perez, who, however, overtook him immediately relying on already warm tires. At that point, he had no other chance than to invoke the authorization to open the Drs, inexplicably denied until the 34th lap by race director Niels Wittich. Before the final slip, the only thrill had come for a long from the Mexican, which Charles was unable to exploit. Then, after the second stop of both, the World Championship leader got enticed and ended up leaving 7 precious points on the track.
“Deserved double”
While the positions of the podium were being played in front (Norris excellent third), with a Verstappen who was good at gradually making a void on his teammate and never in difficulty, in the rear Lewis Hamilton was experiencing perhaps the worst afternoon of his career. He started 14th and finished 14th, at a sidereal distance from his teammate George Russell, 4th thanks to a super start and the misfortunes of Ferrari. Unable, Lewis, for dozens of laps to pass Pierre Gasly, emblematic of the dubbing suffered on the 41st lap by the world champion, with whom he had played the 8th title until a few months ago. For Verstappen a kind of small Grand Slam: first in the Sprint, victory and fastest lap, 34 points out of 34 and relaunch in the race for the title. «The double is deserved – the Dutchman comments -, the key moment was the start but we were good at managing all situations without making mistakes».

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