Three things that stood out at the Formula 1 race in Imola: Ferrari shows nerves ahead of Tifosi in the World Cup match

Max Verstappen fought back at the Imola race and achieved his second victory of the season. At the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, the world champion won ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Sergio Pérez.

Ferrari endured a debacle at their home race. Carlos Sainz retired in the first round, Charles Leclerc turned on course towards the podium and finished only in sixth place.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel scored the first points in Aston Martin. Countryman Mick Schumacher clearly missed the points again.

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Three things that stood out at the F1 race at Imola:

1. Leclerc and Sainz fluttering nerves in front of typhoid

With a petrified expression, Carlos Sainz stared at the monitors in the pitlane. On lap 54, Charles Leclerc spun in the Alta variant and crashed into the crash barrier. A disaster for the Scuderia in Imola, which started right from the start.

For the race was over for the Spaniard, who was only a TV viewer, when Leclerc made a mistake in turn two. Just like two days ago, car number 55 had to be lifted off the gravel bed using a crane after Sainz was hit by Daniel Ricciardo.

“Unfortunately, Daniel made a mistake and I paid the price for it,” the 27-year-old complained to “Sky” after the race. Just like in Australia two weeks ago, it was already over for the Madrilenian shortly after the start.

However, it was only himself that Sainz was able to fight the much slower McLaren. After his mishap in qualifying, he managed to save himself in fourth place in the sprint race. But he could not use the proper starting position. “We did not have the best start with any of the cars,” he admitted after the race.

Like his teammate, Sainz got off to a bad start. Especially bitter in front of the numerous Ferrari fans. “It’s very annoying because I wanted to drive a good race for Tifosi and we had good chances. But that was it for me,” said the Ferrari driver. After the fourth race, Sainz continues to lose ground in the championship match.

So much the more dramatic as the pressure on Scuderia is now increasing due to the Red Bulls double victory in the duel for the World Cup. Also because everything did not go smoothly on the other side of the pitlane. On the contrary: Leclerc made a mistake right at the start, lost two positions and was then no longer able to significantly endanger Red Bull. “We did not have the pace today to become number three,” said the sober Monegasse.

But the championship leader also threw the podium and important points with a mistake nine laps before the end. While chasing Sergio Pérez, he lost the car in the harassment and then had to go to the pit lane. “There are no excuses. I made a mistake that I should not have made,” Leclerc said.

The current championship leader managed to save himself in sixth place with a final sprint, but lost important points from his comfortable lead. At the home race, just 70 kilometers as the crow flies from Maranello, the 24-year-old experienced a violent setback.

Ferrari has a title car for the first time in many years. Whether the Scuderia also has title drivers remains to be seen. The disaster in Imola casts doubt on that.

Carlos Sainz ‘Ferrari after his retirement in Imola

Image credit: Imago

Vettel with a world championship performance

Sebastian Vettel traveled to Imola with the shame of Down Under in his luggage. After missing two races, he had a weekend to forget in Melbourne. Before the Grand Prix in Italy, the Aston Martin driver gave himself the grade 6.

But Heppenheimer fought back in his defeated vehicle and showed a world-class performance throughout the weekend. In qualifying, he steered Aston Martin into Q3 for the first time this season. In the race on Sunday, he shone with a flawless performance, and as number eight, he scored the first points for the season’s traditional British brand.

“It’s like a victory for us,” a cheerful Vettel told “RTL” after the race. Under difficult conditions, he did everything right in Imola. “Everything was fine,” said Vettel, who “could make more of a difference” on a wet road after the Grand Prix.

Vettel got a dream start in the intermediate matches. Initially, the 34-year-old climbed up from 13th place on the grid to ninth with the right mix of “patience and aggression”. At the restart after the safety car phase, the four-time world champion overtook Fernando Alonso with a fantastic maneuver.

And when he switched to slicks, Vettel captured the ideal moment and closed Haas driver Kevin Magnussen in the pitlane. Although a much faster Yuki Tsunoda in Alpha Tauri finally pushed Vettel away, the Aston Martin driver saved four important points by finishing eighth.

“Putting the car where it does not belong feels good,” he said, giving a realistic picture of the car’s strengths. “It was much less possible. The pace is not there yet. The car is very difficult to drive,” Vettel said. Heppenheimer’s eighth place, which once again flashed his class and silenced critics after the Australia debacle, is now so much the higher.

And Vettel also went “from one extreme to the other” in his own assessment. For his performance in Imola, he gave himself – not wrong – the grade 1. “Of course I’m not where I want to be. But you have to be realistic, and therefore today was very good,” he summed up after a world champion. Performance.

Sebastian Vettel

Photo Credit: Getty Images

3. Verstappen strikes back in the World Cup match

The decision had already been made before the turn of the year. With a perfect start, the world champion maintained the lead against Charles Leclerc, which he never gave up again. Max Verstappen achieved the second Grand Slam in his career in Imola.

“It was a very lonely Sunday,” the 24-year-old Dutchman joked over the team’s radio after crossing the finish line. 14 days after the bitter failure of Albert Park, Verstappen struck back impressively in Imola.

“It was the right answer for Melbourne. It went really well,” said motorsport consultant Helmut Marko. Verstappen left Emilia-Romagna with a perfect draw of points: 25 points for the victory, eight for the triumph in the sprint race on Saturday and one for the fastest round.

It was not as easy as the 24-year-old’s triumph in the Ferrari country looked like, he said: “One should assess the conditions correctly, make no mistakes and dictate the pace. It is not that easy.”

Max Verstappen

Photo Credit: Getty Images

16 seconds later, Sergio Pérez completed the first one-two for the Red Bulls in six years – the 18th overall in the racing team’s history. “We only got one point less than the maximum and made great pit stops. It was a great comeback for Australia,” Horner said.

The team around the 48-year-old Briton reduced the distance to Scuderia in the constructors’ championship to eleven points and reported back in the battle for the world championship. “We have never given up hope of winning the title. We have two strong drivers. Pérez is getting stronger. We are optimistic about the future,” Marko said after the race.

And Verstappen himself made important points in the battle for the title defense with his second victory of the season, which he himself had complacently written off last week. The Ferrari feels the Dutchman’s breath.

Because when the world champion crossed the finish line this year, he was always the first to cross the line. Formula 1 fans rightly choose Verstappen as “Driver of the Day” on Sunday. After the triumph in Imola, the battle for the World Cup crown is open again.

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