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A perfect Red Bull weekend: Verstappen in a league of his own

Max Verstappen qualified on pole, won the F1 Sprint and the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola

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The 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix couldn’t have been much more successful for Max Verstappen after Qualifying on pole, overtaking Charles Leclerc in the F1 Sprint then dominating Sunday’s race, especially with the Ferrari driver making a mistake and dropping to sixth. 

It was the first time Red Bull have had a one-two since Malaysia in 2012 and it also moves Verstappen second in the 2022 F1 Driver Standings, just 27 points behind leader Leclerc

Christian Horner confirmed that Red Bull brought a small upgrade to Imola and that seemed to give Verstappen the edge over Leclerc and Ferrari

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates on the podium with the trophy after winning the race REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

“It was quite a stressful race on the pit wall,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “With changing conditions, there is a lot that can go wrong. 

“But I thought both Max and Checo did an unbelievable job today. To come here, we attacked the weekend and brought a little upgrade.

“A lot of people said you shouldn’t do that with only one practice session, but we believed in ourselves and it paid off.”

Exactly what Red Bull needed

The start of the 2022 F1 season hasn’t been easy for Red Bull, with Verstappen failing to finish two of the opening three races, and Perez retiring from the Bahrain GP. That allowed Ferrari and Leclerc to dominate, but things may have started to swing in Red Bull’s direction. 

“We just have to learn from our reliability trouble,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1. “And I think we did as a team. The whole weekend we made the right calls, and we were on top of everything except the [Sprint race] start.

“I know how a championship works, you always have to try and score points, and of course if you can’t win you have to settle for second. Every point counts.”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

A league of his own

Verstappen was the standout driver in the difficult conditions at Imola, as they drifted from wet to damp to dry, with the Dutchman was voted F1 Driver of the Day, plus Nico Rosberg was full of praise for the champion’s drive. 

“It’s again Max Verstappen, a phenomenal drive all weekend, just nailing it,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1. “Whenever it counted he was just in a league of his own. 

“Really putting a marker down and saying ‘hey I’m not out this championship yet’ he’s now just 27 points away from Leclerc, so the championship is once again wide open. And Red Bull are really on a level playing field once again in terms of car pace at least with Ferrari.”

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