F1 Emilia Romagna - Max Verstappen wins the Italian Grand Prix.

Posted on 25-04-2022 by Sachin Patra

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Italy is blessed to host two F1 races in a race calendar. The Ferrari home ground Emilia Romagna aka Imola, and the Monza, are among the oldest race tracks.

 The Ferrari's home race didn't go the way Ferrari would have wanted. 

Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari

Italy is blessed to host two F1 races in a race calendar. The Ferrari home ground Emilia Romagna aka Imola, and the Monza, are among the oldest race tracks. From the 1980s up until 2006, Imola has hosted 27 F1 races. It returned to the F1 calendar only in 2020. The anti-clockwise circuit is fast, with an old-school feel as the drivers put it on the line in iconic corners like the Acque Minerali and Piratella. The Imola tack offers the F1 teams and fans an opportunity to pay their respect to the F1 legend- Ayrton Senna. Unfortunately, it was the 1994 San Marino GP where the legend lost his life.

The Weekend

The Emilia Romagna is the 4th race of the 2022 season. This happens to be the debut of Sprint Session for the season. For those of you who are not aware, what's a Sprint? The sprint race is an extension of the Qualifyings. Think of sprint as an additional event after Qualifyings. Instead of deciding the grid position based on the results of Q3, the grid is determined by a mini racing session on Saturday. Italian sprint was a small 21 lap race, and the grid position for Sunday's race was based on the result of the sprint. The sprint concept was introduced to make F1 more appealing and more races for the F1 fans. But at the same time, it's putting a lot more pressure on the teams and excessive wear & tear on the cars. It has been a rainy weekend, and the qualifying saw 5 red flags because of many crashes. One thing is clear, Ferrari and RedBull have emerged as the dominating teams. Mercedes found itself at a distance 11th for Russell, and Hamilton starting 14th on the grid.

Race Day

03:00 PM Italian time, Lights out and away we go, cars running on the green intermediate tyres because of intermittent rains. Lap 1 and turn 2 itself a big disappointment for the Italian fans as Carlos Sainz spins out of the track with Riccardo. Sainz beached his car on the gravel, whereas Daniel rejoined the track. Safety Car on the first lap is not something the F1 fans wanted, but it's the wet Imola track that already saw 5 red flags during the qualifying.   

Lap 08

The second retirement for the weekend was Fernando Alonso. As it happened, it was not only Riccardo & Sainz that touched. Alonso also picked up damage, and by lap 8, his side bodywork was gone. The damage was irreparable, and Alonso had to retire. So call it life, but 17 years ago, this day, he won a race.

Meanwhile, after a horrible start by Charles Leclerc, he gained 3 positions to place him at 3rd. Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, the race directors didn't enable DRS, and as a result, very few overtakes could be seen. 

On the Lap 15, the Race leader Max could be heard complaining, "I'm sliding a lot more", but the RedBull team decided to call in Perez first. Max was brought in once Perez did a flying lap with the medium compound tyres. 

The former world champion Nico Rosberg was in for commentary, spitting fire. Lap 25 "George Russell is at 5th position, and with the same car Hamilton is struggling at 14th". Once the track dried sufficiently, race directors finally enabled DRS on the Lap 34th, and it made up for some nice moves behind the race leaders. 

The arch rivalry could be seen between Hamilton & Rosberg even after the latter's retirement. Lap 41 "Max is about to overlap his last year's championship competitor Hamilton. He must have a smile while overlapping Ham". It's such a pity for Mercedes fans to see Mercedes struggling to overtake Gasly's Alpha Tauri, not even with DRS enabled. By Lap 50, Ferrari realised that there was no way they would challenge the pace of RedBulls. Leclerc was brought in to shift to softer tyres to at least score that extra points for the fastest lap. So did the RedBulls, beautiful pitstop by the RB mechanics ensured that they stayed ahead of the Ferrari. It's interesting how teams take pitstop calls based on the decisions of their rivals. 

Lap 54, Charles tried hard to catch up to the Redbulls and, as a result, hit the kerb at too much speed. As a result, the struggling Ferrari went off the track and picked up damage on the tyres and front wing. Luckily, he managed to join back the track, but another pitstop meant he dropped to 6th on the finish line.

After the shameful DNFs in the previous races, RedBull is finally where it wanted to be. A 1-2 finish for Max and Sergio and a stellar performance by both the drivers. The Mclaren fans were a well-deserved win for the Austrian team but even happier. A P3 finish for Lando Norris was the star of the radio conversations. A beautiful drive by the young Lando Norris and a bit of luck with the Leclerc crash. 

A heart in mouth moment in the pit lane when Esteban Ocon was unsafely released, and he almost crashed into Lewis Hamilton during the pit stop.


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