Formula 1 at Imola: Ferrari embarrassed by the first leg

No Ferrari man on the podium at Imola: Charles Leclerc got it wrong just before the finish and was only sixth. Photo: Agence France-Presse / Miguel Medina

Charles Leclerc missed the podium at Emilia Romagna, team-mate Carlos Sainz withdrew after being involved in an accident – Red Bull rival Max Verstappen won. Red disaster.

On Sunday, I happened to be a public holiday in Italy. On the other hand, because the rain around Imola has always been more, and sometimes less. Secondly, this was the main reason, because after the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, no Italian anthem was played and not even a man in red appeared on the podium at the awards ceremony. The world champion had something against him. Max Verstappen canceled the planned Italian festival only at short notice on Saturday with his sprint victory, and on Sunday he blocked another Italian festival among 120,000 spectators with a sovereign victory at Autodromo Dino e Enzo Ferrari – when Verstappen sprinkled champagne, several Ferraristi had already left the stands.

“It was a beautiful Sunday. We were hoping for a strong weekend, and luckily it came.” , in addition to the fastest lap of the race – 34 points, and no more can be achieved. The Dutchman reduced the gap against Leclerc, who collected only 15 points in Italy, from 46 to 27. “The World Cup is still far away,” the 24-year-old defending champion said. Nothing has been decided yet,” although no one should contradict it.

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For Ferrari, the last weekend in April was an occasion that no one will remember fondly. A home match with a bad defeat. The Scuderia arrived with high expectations, resolutely plotting a home win, then Carlos Sainz’s grand prix ended in turn, and world championship leader Charles Leclerc finished only sixth – in a battle with Red Bull’s man Sergio Perez slipping the Monaco track in 12th laps before the finish. “I made a mistake that I shouldn’t have done. There is no excuse for that,” the 24-year-old said angrily. “We didn’t have the speed to win, but I really wanted to finish second.” Sainz retired right after the start after colliding with Daniel Ricciardo.

World Cup competitors Leclerc (“Prince Charles”) and Verstappen (“Mad Max”) did not get in each other’s way at Imola, but this was not always the case in the past. There are only 16 days between the duelists’ birthdays, Verstappen was born on September 30, 1997, and Leclerc was born on October 16 – since they were twelve years old, they met repeatedly in different series. The rivalry for life (in the races) – after all, it wasn’t quite as devastating as it was ten years ago. It was 2012 on the kart track in Val d’Argenton (100km west of Nantes) when the two 14-year-olds clashed violently as part of the WSK Euroseries. The best grid positions were contested, Verstappen and Leclerc were among the favorites – and after the Dutchman triumphed, Monegasse thrust him off track into the mud like a bad loser. Verstappen was enraged, and Leclerc played the innocent.

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The story would have been long forgotten if the two hadn’t faced each other in a duel for the crown in Formula 1. A video from that time was a hit on YouTube and racked up over 1.7 million clicks. “We can both laugh now,” Verstappen said before the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, and his opponent also admitted that the relationship had cooled off significantly. Leclerc revealed: “When we were kids we couldn’t stand each other, now we talk to each other. Max is a good guy but when we put the helmet on the competition it comes back, like you did in karting.”

Best clue: In 2019, the Ferrari driver was on the verge of winning his first Formula 1 victory at the Austrian Grand Prix, then overtaken Verstappen with a tricky and controversial maneuver. While Leclerc was furious, the Dutchman excerpted: “If such a duel is no longer possible, we can stay at home.” Of course they continued their duels, in Formula 1, they were duels bitterly, but just as in Bahrain and Jeddah. In Melbourne, Leclerc advanced, and at Imola it was Verstappen. But if the 2022 World Cup enters the crucial stage and things remain tight, the old rivalry could erupt again.

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