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2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Blog

Excitement reached fever pitch in Italy last week. On all known evidence, Ferrari have the best car this season and they looked set to claim a historic victory in front of home fans at Imola.

That was the plan anyway…

Perhaps it was the weather which conspired against them but after a dramatic wet-dry Qualifying session on Friday, it was Max Verstappen’s Red Bull that topped the leader board. Saturday saw the first of this season’s ‘Sprint Races’ and in much improved conditions the tifosi were cheering when the Dutchman lost the lead to Charles Leclerc after a poor start. Their joy was short lived however, as Verstappen swept past the Ferrari again on the penultimate lap to claim a well-deserved victory.

The Scuderia must already have had niggling doubts going into Sunday’s Grand Prix, and in wet conditions their race got off to the worst possible start. Daniel Ricciardo tagged Carlos Sainz and sent him spinning into a gravel trap on the first lap. The Spaniard is surely the unluckiest driver in F1 so far this season. In the past two races he has completed a total of just three laps.

With his teammate out of the race there was even more pressure on Leclerc, but the simple fact is, Red Bull had the better package. They took full advantage of this with Verstappen first, Perez second, and the fastest lap to boot. Max was clearly thrilled with his team’s progress, saying: “To have a weekend like this for both of us with a one-two for the Team is just incredible. It was a very lovely Sunday!”

McLaren had a lovely Sunday too! Lando Norris drove a solitary race but steered his MCL36 home in third spot to take the final place on the podium. This is a massive improvement on what we saw early in the season. Well done to all concerned.

What happened to Leclerc? He should, unquestionably, have finished in third place but lost control of his car at the Variante Alta chicane whilst trying to put pressure on second placed Sergio Perez. The Ferrari spun and sustained front wing damage, forcing a pit stop. Leclerc re-joined the race in P9 and whilst he was able to climb back up to P6 come the chequered flag, this was a case of seven points thrown away. In his post-race analysis, the Monegasque driver admitted he was: “disappointed in myself” before adding: “I tried too much. On that lap, I obviously wanted to give it all but I gave too much and finished into the wall.”

So, a bad weekend for the team in Red, but that was nothing compared to the position that the Silver Arrows find themselves in. Lewis Hamilton was lapped by Max Verstappen during Sunday’s Grand Prix. A scenario which would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago. Hamilton didn’t hold back, saying the race result: “shows how wrong” Mercedes have got it with their 2022 car.

Despite this, Hamilton’s teammate George Russell, put in a decent shift to bring his car home in fifth place. Russell was pleased, and said: “It was a strong race in terms of maximising our potential points today, the car felt good but we’re just lacking downforce because we can’t get the car to run close to the ground.”

Running close to the ground is their aim but “porpoising” is the reality that the Mercedes team are faced with. This bouncing phenomenon is becoming a serious concern, so much so that Russell admitted he has been struggling with back and chest pains post-race.

We are only four races into a twenty-three-race season and a solution must be found quickly. F1 drivers are a tough breed but nobody should be asked to put their health on the line in the name of sport.

Valtteri Bottas is not a vindictive character but Mercedes performance at Emilia Romagna must surely have put a smile on his face. The Finn had a stellar weekend and brought his Alfa Romeo home in fifth place. A hugely valuable points haul for the team and, but for a slow pit stop, he would have most likely have finished ahead of his Mercedes replacement, George Russell. It seems Bottas had a case of tunnel vision, saying afterwards: “Mercedes and George, that was my motivation throughout the race, to push every lap and to hopefully get a chance towards the end. I just couldn’t quite get him but maybe next time.”

Alfa Romeo currently sit fifth in the Constructors Championship with 25 points. Mercedes are clear of them at the moment with 77 points but unless they find significant improvement soon, there is a real chance that gap could close.

Next up, the F1 roadshow rolls into Miami. The team at Edge are hugely excited about this race. We can’t wait to welcome our guests here for what will surely be one of the flagship events on the calendar. If you would like to join us at a race later this year, please call +44 (0)207 107 1640 or email f1@edgeglobalevents.com.