Imola Grand Prix Review

Story posted May 1, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by Dale Ostrander

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix has come and gone and after a MAXimum effort from Max Verstappen and the Red Bull team to complete the grand slam this weekend in Italy and manage to bring them right back into the championship picture.

The first of two Italian Grand Prix this year resulted in two massive upsets for the home team and championship favorites, Ferrari. On the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari track, named after Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, the pressure was certainly on the home team to earn a win with their home base only 10 miles down the road.

Before Sunday’s Grand Prix, the race weekend had a different setup to this week as the Sprint races are back once again for the 2022 season. The first of three Sprint races was set to take place on Saturday.

This forced qualifying to be pushed to Friday and resulted in the first of many wrecks for Ferrari on the weekend as Carlos Sainz Jr. wrecked in Q2, but would still pass to Q3 on time so he would start the Sprint in 10th place. Verstappen would end up on the pole for a rainy qualifying session with Charles Leclerc right next to him.

The Sprint sessions changed from last year as more points were awarded for more places. The points for the Sprints were eight points for first place and one less point for each place all the way down to eighth.

Leclerc was able to jump Verstappen at the start of the Sprint race as well as Sainz being able to climb through the field to eventually finish fifth to make up for his Friday blunder.

However, for Ferrari, Leclerc was not able to hold onto the lead and Verstappen was able to pass him to win the Sprint race and get those coveted eight points before Sunday.

Moving into Sunday, it was a rainy morning once again in Imola which forced the racers to start on intermediate tires. Verstappen was able to get away from Leclerc this time where he would maintain the lead for the rest of the race and receive an extra point for fastest lap of the race.

Behind the top two on the first lap, it would be all trouble as Sainz would be wrecked from Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. The chain reaction beached Sainz’s car in the gravel pit and ended his race on the first lap, just after signing a new contract with Ferrari prior to the race weekend.

The wreck allowed for many people to move up the grid including George Russell who finished fourth and kept his streak of finishing in the top five in every race alive. Things didn't go well for his Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who finished in 13th position and a lap down to Verstappen.

However, the surprise of the weekend came with Leclerc driving aggressively and wrecking, trying to get the fastest lap of the day extra point. Leclerc was in second at the time and wrecked with only ten laps to go.

The wreck allowed Sergio Pérez and Lando Norris to pass through for second and third place and leave Ferrari and Leclerc with no podium to show for their dominant car. Leclerc would end up in sixth after his wreck, but the first and second place finish brings Red Bull back into the Constructors Championship as Ferrari is at 124 points and Red Bull is at 113.

The dominance from Red Bull in their competitor’s home racetrack will sting Ferrari surely, but what could hurt more is the knowledge that any race that Max Verstappen has won every race that he has finished so far.

Dale Ostrander is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email dko5097@psu.edu.