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Verstappen leads famous 1-2 for Red Bull at Imola


So, there we were ruminating over what lessons had been learned from the Sprint and how they might impact today's race, particularly in terms of tyre deg, when suddenly the heavens opened.

While rain was anticipated, few expected it to arrive so early or with such intensity.

On Friday, Ferrari performed on both the full wets and Inters, and consequently the Italian team must feel confident going forward, particularly in light of yesterday's Sprint and how it lost out due to the tyre deg that resulted from Charles Leclerc pushing too hard.

No doubt, overnight, a number of drivers were performing rain dances, not least the McLaren pair and Fernando Alonso, while the Haas boys will be equally happy to have raindrops falling on their heads.

Last year, of course, the race got underway in the wet, with Leclerc spinning off on the formation lap... but thankfully able to continue.

It was Tamburello, shortly after, that the first of the season's numerous clashes involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen occurred, and few would bet against a repeat today, though with Leclerc involved this time around.

Sainz went off twice on the opening lap - the second time giving Stroll a nudge then Latifi, the Williams driver subsequently going off and into the wall at Acque Minerale, courtesy of a helping hand from Mazepin, thereby bringing out the safety car.

No slouch in the wet, Fernando Alonso is predicting chaos.

"In the chaos, you can be lucky or unlucky," says the Spaniard. "In the position we are in, maybe we are one of the lucky ones."

Indeed, going back to Friday there were numerous incidents prompting numerous stoppages and by the end of the day almost everyone had experienced an off of one sort or another.

With little wet running so fa this year, combined with the new cars and tyres, the drivers are still learning.

If nothing else, the drivers parade offers the teams the opportunity to flog umbrellas to the fans, each of the drivers sporting a large golf umbrella adorned with his teams' logos... yours for only 49.99.

Shortly after, around an hour before the start, the rain stops and the sun emerges. However, the track remains damp.

As if to prove the point, as the pitlane opens most drivers head out on full wets, though a few are on Inters.

It is a chilly 11 degrees C, while the track temperature is 18 degrees.

"Not any dry patches, but a few just grease," reports Russell. Teammate Hamilton complains of a "power drop", but the team subsequently says the issue has been resolved.

Of course, tyre strategy is up in the air, other than that all-important drivers make the switch to slicks... though there is talk of further rain.

In the meantime, does one start on full wets or Inters?

Christian Horner is confident it will dry quickly, but warns of another band of rain on the way.

The drivers gather for a stirring rendition of one of the best anthems on the calendar... even if the crowd is behind the beat.

This is followed by a fly-past... which we thought were banned.

Ahead of the formation lap, race control warns that there is a 60% chance of further rain.

All are starting on Inters as they head off on the formation lap, all except Zhou who starts from the pitlane. The tyre warmers are kept in place until the last possible second.

"It could be a race of attrition," Latifi is told... to which we offer no comment.

As the field heads round on the formation lap, the drivers are greeted with clouds of red smoke by the partisan crowd.

The grid forms.

They're away! Great starts from both Bulls, however the Ferrari pair are both slow off the line.

As they emerge from the spray, that poor start is followed by even more misery for the Tifosi as Norris goes through on the inside of Leclerc at Tamburello and Sainz spins and collects Ricciardo in the process. As was the case in Melbourne the Spaniard is beached in the gravel. For the second race running, Sainz is out on the first lap.

Great start from Russel, the Mercedes passing Schumacher who has a poor getaway. Magnussen benefits from the Sainz/Ricciardo incident which compromises Bottas, while teammate Schumacher spin at Tamburello, his rear tyre clouting Alonso's sidepod in the process.

The safety car is deployed.

Verstappen leads Perez, Norris, Leclerc, Magnussen, Russell, Bottas, Alonso, Vettel and Tsunoda.

The stewards have noted the incident which suggests Ricciardo was pushed by Bottas, into Sainz. They subsequently opt not to investigate.

Ricciardo pits at the end of lap 2 rejoining in 19th.

"Track is drying up quickly," claims Leclerc.

The safety car is withdrawn at the end of lap 4.

Vettel is told that rain is expected in twenty minutes... "or maybe sooner".

They're away again, Leclerc all over the rear of Norris' McLaren. Vettel passes Alonso for 8th as Tsunoda also passes the Alpine driver.

With Perez riding shotgun, Verstappen posts a 31.450 as he builds a 1.6s lead.

Alonso is struggling and next to pass is Hamilton. At which point the TV camera reveals massive sidepod damage on the right-hand side of Alonso's car.

At the end of lap 6, Alonso pits. "How bad is the damage," he asks. "Bad, quite bad," he is told. His day's work is clearly done.

Verstappen continues to post fastest laps (30.119), as Leclerc nails Norris at Tamburello. Next up is Perez who is 3s up the road.

A dry line is emerging, but with that rain approaching who is willing to take the gamble.

Russell closes on Magnussen as they battle for 5th, but the Dane slams the door.

Next time around the Mercedes driver tries again, but in these conditions the advantage is with the Haas driver.

"Rain in the next ten laps," Latifi is told.

Finally, on lap 12, at the third attempt Russell makes it stick... only to run out of road and miss the chicane, thereby losing the place back to Magnussen.

However, at the Variante Alta Russell won't take no for an answer and is through, with Bottas almost catching Magnussen out in the process.

"Light class zero to one rain expected in the next ten minutes," Norris is told.

Bottas makes a bold move on Magnussen on the run to Rivazza, to claim 6th, as Hamilton closes on Stroll.

Leclerc has his time deleted for exceeding the track limits at Turn 9.

After 15 laps, Leclerc is just 1.2s down on Perez, who is 6.3s adrift of leader Verstappen.

As Hamilton shadows Stroll, the Canadian closes on Tsunoda.

Ricciardo pits at the end of lap 16, the Australian switching to mediums.

All eyes on Ricciardo, as Ocon joins the Tsunoda train.

"Still too early," replies Hamilton when asked about the possibility of a switch to slicks.

At the end of lap 17, Vettel, Gasly and Albon all pit as Ricciardo sets an impressive pace.

Next time around Perez pits, the Mexican switching to mediums. Russell and Bottas also stop, as does Magnussen... indeed a whole host of drivers.

A disastrous stop for Bottas, while Ocon and Hamilton appear to clash in the pitlane, following an unsafe release for the Alpine driver.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Imola, here.


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1. Posted by kenji, 25/04/2022 0:28

"Whilst the race had a few moments of good racing, by and large it was reminiscent of those times when Mercedes would just roar off into the distance leaving very few crumbs on the table . One obvious point to make is the performances of Bottas and Russell. Both drivers are doing a very good job and it must be heart warming for Bottas to be taking it to his former employer! He's no derogatorily termed the 'wingman' and is proving to be quite handy in a car that has potential to do even better as the season progresses. Recalling the comments made over the past few years when comparisons were made as to why he was not able to take it to the other side of the garage despite having an identical car, it now seems as though the situation is being reversed with Russell in an identical car to that residing in the opposite side of the garage !!!
I do believe that the first lap incidents ruined what could have been a better/more interesting race. Nevertheless we can now just focus on Miami and what might eventuate there. New tracks are always fun to watch as drivers have to really test their expertise in a total new track learning environment. There are quite a few Miami detractors already before even one lap is run? IMO it certainly looks good.....and that's a positive start."

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2. Posted by Kristofforo, 24/04/2022 21:32

"Well. That weekend of ‘racing’ was beyond dull. "

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