Verstappen soars to Imola glory as Leclerc takes a costly spin

Max Verstappen won the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, gaining ground on Charles Leclerc, who suffered a costly late spin.

After giving up on catching race leader Verstappen, Leclerc pitted from third place for soft tyres in an attempt to steal the fastest lap away from the Dutchman.

However, at the Variante Alta, the Ferrari driver lost control and suffered damage, forcing him to pit again, allowing Lando Norris to finish third.

Leclerc fell to ninth but returned to sixth as his championship lead was reduced by 18 points, with Sergio Perez completing a Red Bull one-two.

Verstappen started on pole after winning the sprint race on Saturday, and he never relinquished it, even though Leclerc slipped from second to fourth on the first wet lap.

The safety car was called out after Carlos Sainz spun out after colliding with Daniel Ricciardo, who was shoved from behind by Valtteri Bottas at the Variante Tamburello.

Leclerc passed Lando Norris on lap eight but was already six seconds behind Verstappen, who only extended his lead after switching to slick tyres on lap 20.

Perez, who rapidly recaptured second place after losing it to Leclerc in the pits, showed some good defense to keep the Ferrari at bay, despite a trip on the grass before DRS was enabled belatedly just after the halfway point.

Leclerc recorded the best lap but lost track position when he hit the barriers on lap 53, giving Verstappen the additional point after switching to soft tyres.

Hamilton is having a terrible day.

Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time champion, began 14th after being a non-factor in Saturday’s short race. He maintained in that position when he crossed the finish line after failing to pass Pierre Gasly, albeit he finished 13th owing to a time penalty for Esteban Ocon due to an unsafe release by his Alpine team.

Hamilton also had the humiliation of being lapped by Verstappen on lap 40, while George Russell finished a creditable fourth.

Aston Martin is off to a good start.

Aston Martin was the only team without a point this season after Alexander Albon finished 10th at the Australian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll worked together to make sure that didn’t happen again. Vettel finished eighth, while Stroll finished tenth, putting the team ahead of Williams in the constructors’ rankings.

 

IN THE SPECIFICATIONS

Max Verstappen is the first (Red Bull)

2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +16.527 seconds

Lando Norris (McLaren) +34.834 seconds

4. George Russell (+42.506s) (Mercedes)

+43.181s Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

+56.072s Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

+61.110s Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

+70.892s Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)

+75.260s Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

+1 lap for Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).

STANDINGS OF THE CHAMPIONS

 

Drivers

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) (86 points)

2. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (59).

Sergio Perez (Red Bull) third (54).

4. George Russell (Mercedes) (49 points)

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 5th 38th

 

Constructors

1. Ferrari 124 Italia

Red Bull 113.

3. Mercedes-Benz 77

McLaren 46.

25. Alfa Romeo

WHAT COMES NEXT?

F1 moves to a fourth continent for race number five, the Miami Grand Prix, which takes place in two weeks.

 

 

In Portugal, defending champion Quartararo rushes to his first victory of the season.

Fabio Quartararo won a MotoGP race for the first time this season, propelling him to the top of the championship standings following a simple victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix, with Johann Zarco finishing second and Aleix Espargaro third.

Quartararo won the last Portuguese Grand Prix in 2021, although he did not place in the top ten in his two other MotoGP appearances at the Algarve International Circuit (14th in 2020 Portuguese GP and did not finish at the 2021 Algarve GP).

Despite winning the title last year, the Frenchman’s previous race victory came at the British Grand Prix in August.

Quartararo, on the other hand, glided by Joan Mir early in Sunday’s race in Portimao and never looked back as he cruised to victory, while all the drama unfolded behind him.

Enea Bastianini, the previous championship leader, crashed out on lap 10, appearing to scrape the seam of the curb at turn eight before sliding off the circuit in 10th place.

Mir was left fighting for second place and was finally passed by a motivated Zarco, but things were about to become worse for the Spaniard when Jack Miller slipped his bike and took both of them out of the race at the start of lap 16.

Mir has now gone six races without a podium, his worst run in MotoGP since his first 20 races in the top class between 2019 and 2020.

Alex Rins, on the other hand, put in a performance to remember, moving up from 23rd to fourth on the first lap alone, gaining a stunning 13 positions.

Elsewhere, at the finish of the race, there was some good old-fashioned racing between the Marquez brothers, with Marc eventually getting the best of Alex to claim sixth place.

TOP TEN

Fabio Quartararo, No. 1 (Monster Energy Yamaha)

2. Johann Zarco (+5.409) (Pramac Racing)

3. Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro (+6.068)

4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) +9.633 points

+13.573 Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM)

+16.163 +16.163 +16.163 +16.163 +16.163 +16.163 +16.163 +16.163 +16.163

+16.183 Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol)

+16.511 Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo)

+16.769 Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda)

+18.063 Maverick Vinales (Aprilia Racing)

 

STANDINGS OF THE CHAMPIONS

Riders

1. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) (69 points)

2. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) (69 points)

3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) (66 points)

61. Enea Bastianini (Gresini)

5th: Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) 51st

 

Teams

Suzuki Ecstar 115

Aprilia Racing 91 is ranked second.

3. Yamaha Monster Energy 86

4. The Red Bull KTM 81.

5th. Pramac Racing 79th.

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