After failing to finish in Australia Max Verstapten was on a mission in the Italian GP at Imola. Qualifying first for the sprint, losing his position at its start for Leclerc, but then regaining it at the end to secure 8 points and pole position.
Rain before the race forced all teams to start the race with intermediate tyres but that didn’t stop Checo Perez from having a great launch overtaking Charles Leclerc for the second position helping his teammate Max to secure a comfortable lead.
Carlos Sainz, who had a roller coaster weekend, qualified 10th after his car spun out of control in Q3, but regained his form in the sprint as he finished 4th. However, in the race he found his car stuck in the gravel after he came into contact with Daniel Ricardo after the start, giving him his second DNF in two straight races.
Perez was fortunate with DRS turned off for most of the race due to the track conditions which helped him stave off Charles’ continuous pressure to take back P2.
Rain was expected to fall after 10 laps from the start of the race which made tyre choices very tricky. The track was starting to dry up and intermediate tyres were quickly getting worn out. No one was willing to take a chance and switching to slick tires until Daniel Ricardo pitted and put on mediums which proved to be the right choice as he was the fastest on the track for a while.
Quickly after Ricardo pitted, Redbull called in Sergio Perez and switched his tyres to mediums. Max and Charles pitted in the following lap and Charles came out of the pit in front of Checo, but the Mexican’s tyres were warmer so he skated past Leclerc without a problem, keeping him behind for the rest of the race.
A gamble at the end of the race proved costly for Ferrari as they called in Leclerc to switch to softs in an attempt to win an extra point for fastest lap, but Perez and Max quickly followed through and did the same.
Charles was obviously faster than Checo but on lap 54 while attempting to get closer to Perez, Charles’ Ferrari spun and hit the wall causing some damage to the front wing which forced him to pit again.
Lando Norris was the beneficiary of Ferrari’s failed gamble as he overtook Leclerc for the final spot on the podium.
Leclerc finished 6th with Alfa Romeo’s Bottas 5th and Mercedes’ Russel 4th.
The young Japanese racer Yuki Tsunoda had a brilliant race finishing 7th behind Leclerc. Lewis Hamilton with a race to forget finishing out of the top 10 after being kept behind Gasley and Albon for most of the race, and, even with DRS, the seven-time world champion found it very hard to overtake the Gasley’s Alphatauri.
The same goes for Alonso who’s been unlucky so far this year with another DNF.
Verstapten’s perfect performance gives him full points this weekend and pushes him into second place in the drivers’ championship with 59 points behind Leclerc’s 86.
With the 1-2 finish, Redbull are closing the gap in the constructors championship bringing themselves just 11 points behind Ferrari, who has 124 points so far this season.
Later next week, drivers will travel to the USA for the Miami grand prix on the 8th of May, where Ferrari will look to get back to their winning ways, and Carlos Sainz will look to show everyone why he deserves his 2024 contract extension.