Verstappen and Red Bull embarrass Ferrari at Imola

IMOLA, Italy (AP) — Formula One champion Max Verstappen dominated in a Red Bull rout of Ferrari on Sunday at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, much to the dismay of a sea of ​​red-clad “tifosi.”

Verstappen won from pole, recorded the fastest lap and took his second victory of the season while leading team-mate Sergio Pérez to Red Bull’s first double since Malaysia in 2016.

“Beautiful Sunday,” Verstappen radioed his Red Bull team on what was actually a dreary, overcast and foggy race day.

But the Dutchman scored maximum points this weekend – he also won the sprint qualifying race on Saturday – and led Red Bull in their embarrassment against Ferrari in what Ferrari hoped would be their celebratory weekend at residence.

“It’s always difficult to achieve something like that,” Verstappen said of the perfect weekend. “We were there. You never know with the weather how competitive you are going to be, but I think as a team we did everything well and this double is very deserved.

Lando Norris finished third for McLaren.

It was a disastrous race for Ferrari, which was racing on home soil and hoping to celebrate a return to F1 dominance. Charles Leclerc entered the championship lead on Sunday with two wins in the first three races and Carlos Sainz Jr. celebrated a two-year contract extension this weekend in Italy.

But Leclerc couldn’t make the jump over Verstappen initially and never fought. Sainz veered off course on the first lap to ruin his race, and Leclerc’s attempt to save the day for Ferrari ended when he raced with Perez for second place.

He eventually finished sixth.

Leclerc had a 46-point lead in the standings over defending champion Verstappen going into the weekend, but Verstappen closed the gap to 27 points and moved into second place.

“I was too greedy and I paid the price and lost seven potential points,” Leclerc told Sky Sports. “It’s a shame, seven points are precious at the end of the championship for sure and it shouldn’t happen again.”

Verstappen was passed by Leclerc at the start of the sprint qualifying race on Saturday but on race day Verstappen got off to a good start. Leclerc, meanwhile, fell while being overtaken by Pérez and Norris.

Leclerc eventually took third place and was chasing the Red Bulls when he slipped.

It rained heavily in the morning but cleared up early in the race, and although the track was still wet, it quickly dried out and the riders had to change their tires for the new conditions.

Leclerc came out of pit road ahead of Perez, but the Mexican driver had warmer tires and was able to sneak inside and reclaim second place. Leclerc was still chasing Perez for second with nine laps remaining when he made a rare mistake and went off the rails. Although he was able to start again, his Ferrari was damaged and Leclerc had to stop.

The race featured an emotional late battle between Mercedes newcomer George Russell and Valtteri Bottas, the driver he replaced. Both men went down on the final lap for fourth, with Russell holding off the veteran for the spot, having started the race 11th.

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile. continued his early struggles and finished 13th. Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has apologized to Hamilton over the radio for the ‘undriveable’ car Hamilton received in Italy.

The seven-time world champion lost the title to Verstappen in last season’s finale in one of the best title fights in decades. On Sunday, Hamilton was passed by Verstappen on lap 39.


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