Formula 1: Charles Leclerc destroys his own party

Max Verstappen

(Photo: David Davies / dpa)

Helmut Marko, the group supervisor at Red Bull Racing, had his worries after the world champion’s false start, which failed to finish twice in the first three races: “If we do not win again soon, Max can actually become a time bomb!” The Dutchman was actually already on his way to uncontrolled aggression again, but then Adrian Newey, the lord of heaven, found some new aerodynamic solutions for Imola, which the champion went into the weekend almost untried with. And got the best out of it: pole position, victory in the sprint race, victory in the Grand Prix, fastest race round. Get 34 championship points in one weekend.

Despite the difficult conditions, it was more or less a lonely Sunday trip. Max and maximum, the pun was finally correct in light of the dominance in Autodromo. “I could not expect that,” admitted the day’s winner, “it’s a great booster.” In the few difficult moments, the team and parade drivers were by no means inferior, remained focused and made the right decisions. “It must have been one of our best results ever,” said team manager Christian Horner.

Charles Leclerc

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(Photo: Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Michael Schumacher remains the last driver to top the podium for Ferrari at Imola in 2006, his final season for Scuderia. Charles Leclerc had every opportunity to refresh the story. But he failed not just because of his driving error ten laps before the end, but perhaps also a little because of the pressure from a six-digit Ferraristi number on the track. The week that started with his luxury watch being stolen ended in disaster – and lost the point for the fastest lap due to the spin, plus secure third place.

But he was also lucky that he could continue at all. In sixth place, he lost 19 points to opponent Verstappen in one weekend. Of course, a 27-point lead in the World Cup is still comfortable, but that does not stop Leclerc from fighting a lot after inadvertently ruining his own party: “There’s no excuse, it’s a shame. I have a mistake, as I did. that I should not have done and I exceeded the limit. I have really screwed up. “

Sergio Perez

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(Photo: Clive Mason / Getty Images)

Double success for Red Bull Racing on Ferrari terrain is primarily due to the Mexican. Sergio Pérez is not only a strong number two because he finished second in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. But because he – as in the final World Cup drama last year against Lewis Hamilton – quite selflessly has his back free for number one on the team. Charles Leclerc is desperate for him, his slip-up may have been a part of it forced error As in tennis, Pérez is a fantastic defender.

The 32-year-old describes the duel with the Ferrari driver as “quite intense”, and like Verstappen, he admits his rival with mild pity: “With these tires, it’s so easy to make a mistake.” He did not make a single one himself, either at the start, at the restart or at the finish. Pérez is as relieved as Verstappen: “After the uneven start to the season, it was all the more important for us to bring it home this time.” Clear away win, the first double success for the team since 2016.

Mercedes

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(Photo: Dan Mullan / Getty Images)

When the team manager signs up for Formula 1 after crossing the finish line, it is usually to congratulate them. Toto Wolff, the Austrian at the helm of the Mercedes team, often acts countercyclically and is therefore often successful. In case of failure, this also applies to him. “Sorry, Lewis,” he told world champion Lewis Hamilton on the radio, “the car we gave you is not for driving.” Even before his 13th place at the European opening of Formula 1, the record world champion had mercilessly assessed the situation in the Silver Arrow camp: “At the moment, every race weekend is a rescue operation.”

The humiliation of being flung by Max Verstappen after two-thirds fits into the picture. George Russell, the entry in the subscription champions, saved the company’s honor with a fourth-place finish. He usually gets out of it better than his tall British compatriot. Therefore, there is no threat of problems in the team at the moment. Wolff remains pragmatic: If you can not rely on physics and science, then you have to counteract it with passion and determination.

Sebastian Vettel

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(Photo: Jennifer Lorenzini / Reuters)

The last two nations represented in the Formula 1 driving range have now been able to collect points if there was anything in the direction of a national medal table in motorsport. Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, fellow sufferers on Aston Martin’s racing team, enjoyed their luck in qualifying and in the sprint and the numerous unpredictability of the fourth World Championship itself, but it’s still balm for the sore. soul of the Heppenheimers, who recently attracted attention only because of his enormous misfortune in his job.

“Under these conditions, we got more out of it than the others and put the car where it does not really belong,” the 34-year-old admits. He also knows why: “There is more leeway in the rain, you can become a winner there.” The rumors of termination at the end of the season, which are already circulating in England in light of the fact that the contract expires at the end of the season, seem premature. His team manager Mike Krack also sees it as a stretch: “It would be foolish not to try to keep him if we can give him a car that motivates him.”

Mike Schumacher

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(Photo: Clive Mason / Getty Images)

The 25th race of his Formula 1 career would have been a good reason to finally score his first championship point. Starting position ten with a Haas-Ferrari, which at the moment is always good for the top ten, as teammate Kevin Magnussen regularly demonstrates. It is clear early on that Schumacher junior can not do anything from his best starting point so far. He gets caught in the fight after the start, crashes into Fernando Alonso and drops back to 17th place. He stayed there, even after spinning spectacularly in the wet late in the race, sledding across a meadow and being warned about it.

Schumacher is the only driver in the field who has never scored a point. His mood is therefore: “A difficult race for me, in the beginning I lost everything. It was really unfortunate, after that it seemed nothing more. Really very annoying.” It somehow also fits with the weekend’s second decision: After Ferrari and Carlos Sainz jr. has extended, this career step is currently blocked.

Carlos Sainz Jr

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(Photo: Dan Mullan / Getty Images)

Scuderia Ferrari’s record at a race that officially still proudly bears the mark “Made in Italy” can be summed up in just one word: “Frustrating.” Company manager John Elkann and team manager Mattia Binotto had not warned about the (too high) expectations for nothing. For Carlos Sainz junior, newly equipped with contract until the end of 2024, it should have been a compensation after a tough start to the season. But from fourth place on the net, the plan ended shortly after the start with a clash with Daniel Ricciardo in disaster: Gravel, engine off, that was it. “Quite unfortunate and hard to accept,” the 27-year-old summed up after something went wrong for him for the third time this season. In the internal duel with Leclerc, he continued to lose ground. The only consolation is a phrase from the treasury of quotes from frustrated racing drivers: “The season is still long.”

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