After Charles Leclerc’s triumph in Australia, the predestined and the rest of the circus, after the Easter break, are preparing to race the Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna in Imola, one of the most exciting races for Ferrari. The Imola Grand Prix can be defined as a novelty, as it will only be reintroduced into the calendar from 2020 following a reorganization due to Covid-19. In fact, because of the pandemic, the FIA had to upset the season calendar, implementing cancellations and postponements due to the protracted global health emergency and in order to ensure an overall total of races for the purposes of the world title, it introduced the double stage. Italian starting from July 2020. The novelty lies in the fact that, given the prohibition to call several different races with the same name in the same championship, since the Italian Grand Prix is already on the calendar, the Federation names the appointment as the Grand Prix of Emilia- Romagna from the name of the homonymous Italian region. To honor the commitment of the Italian administration in bringing Formula 1 back to the region, the title of the San Marino Grand Prix, which had been disputed at the Imola racetrack for 26 years in less recent times, is thus abandoned. For sponsorship reasons, it was subsequently decided to make the name official: Emirates Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna.
On April 24, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be the fourth round of the championship, it is the thirtieth Grand Prix valid for the World Championship to be held on the circuit of Imola and it has been confirmed on the calendar until 2025, thanks to the contract signed last month. Official sponsor of the Imola Grand Prix for this edition is for the first time the Swiss company producing Rolex watches. Imola was chosen as the first race weekend characterized by the Sprint format, a 100 km race with free choice of tyre compounds and without the need to make pit stops: this determines the starting grid for the Grand Prix. Since its debut in the 2020 season, the Grand Prix has been the subject of a different race format for the third consecutive season from the previous edition. The 2020 edition took place over two days, instead of normally three, in fact the two free practice sessions on Friday were not scheduled, but only one, to be held on Saturday morning, followed by qualifying in the afternoon and the race on Sunday. The 2021 edition was held in the traditional three-day race weekend. The FIA, Liberty Media and the teams, before the start of the Championship reach an agreement to increase the number of Grand Prix races that include the Sprint Qualification format, tested in 2021 in the Grand Prix of Great Britain, Italy and Sao Paulo. Are proposed six Grand Prixes, compared to the three of the previous Championship. The Grand Prixes chosen are those of Bahrain, Emilia-Romagna, Canada, Austria, Holland and Sao Paulo.
Subsequently, after the veto of the top teams at these six tests, which asks for an increase in spending on the budget cap limit, the Championship promoter proposes the halving of the previously proposed races, without however finding an agreement, which is discussed in the F1 Commission in February. The scoring system to be attributed during the Sprint, always valid for the drivers and constructors classifications, is modified and now includes the first eight classified, for a total of 8 to 1 point. This is also a novelty as in the previous scoring system only the top three drivers scored points. The race weekend of this Grand Prix where the Sprint format is used does not vary from the previous Championship, foreseeing the first Friday afternoon the first free practice session, followed by qualifying that takes place in the late afternoon, which establishes the starting grid for the Sprint; the second free practice session is scheduled for Saturday morning, followed by the Sprint in the afternoon, characterized by a race distance of 21 laps or a maximum of 30 minutes according to the regulations, which determines the starting grid for the Grand Prix; the race is as usual scheduled on Sunday afternoon.
For the first time since its return to the calendar, Imola Grand Prix will see the stands come alive with fans. More than 130.000 tickets are sold for the entire race weekend, setting a new record for the Enzo e Dino Ferrari racetrack in Imola. The first two editions of the Grand Prix, the first in November 2020, and the second in April 2021, were held behind closed doors due to the problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The economic return for the territory is estimated at 230 million euros thanks to the Grand Prix, with two billion viewers in 200 connected countries. In September 2021 the Variante Alta of the circuit of Imola was renamed Curva Gresini in memory of Fausto Gresini, a motorcycle rider and sports manager from Imola, who died in the previous months due to complications related to Covid-19. In order to appreciate and learn about the history of Imola and its direct connection with the history of the Ferrari team, the statements of Alessandra Naldi, Head of Corporate & Sports Events released during a pre-race interview are essential:
"The histories of Imola and Ferrari are inexorably linked Because the red thread that links Imola and Maranello runs the length of Emilia-Romagna, a region in which cars are a religion. Ferrari was born here in a part of the world where the most beautiful cars are made. So the link between Imola and the Maranello marque is an emotional one. The depth of support it gets here is the essence of the feelings of those who grew up in the area and those who come here from all over the world to share the energy, the cheering and the passion. Although it's a real race track, with changes of gradient and corners that provide the fans with thrills and excitement, it actually winds its way in between greenery and houses on the edge of town, which means their balconies become high-end viewing areas from which to watch the show and they are packed out during all the sessions. Then there’s the noise that spreads through the streets of Imola. I was born and raised in this small town and I can remember from an early age how much the sound of the cars echoing around it made me shiver. The spectators here are very demanding and passionate: they are impatient to see the Ferraris and the other cars racing on such a demanding track".
Furthermore, to the question we are racing in Imola for the third time in three years, but this year is the first time that the crowds have been allowed in. What do you expect to see in the grandstands and the general viewing areas? Alessandra replies:
“Racing at Imola once again with our fans there to support us will be like having friends round at home after a long absence. We are at the Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit, so it's special and also a responsibility. I am expecting a unique show and more than a race, the Imola GP will be almost a ritual, beautiful and colorful with tens of thousands of fans. I was born in Imola and I’d say you can feel a very powerful energy in the air. The enthusiasm and passion are such that, in the past, it has often led to the fans pouring onto the track and then there’s the roar of the crowd at Rivazza, loud enough to be heard above the noise of the engines. Not far from there is the house where I grew up and where my parents still live. So I have experienced this show since I was a little kid and rediscovering it will be unbelievably exciting".
The focus is also on the fan experience, an element on which Formula 1 is not unprepared:
"The new hospitality, right above the Scuderia Ferrari garage, will be an environment in which our partners and customers can experience an unforgettable weekend. Imola is the first event at which we are rolling out this new concept, which will also be used at other rounds on the calendar. It will offer great views of the excitement of the race start and pit stops, the packed grandstands on the opposite side of the track and it’s the perfect setting to show off the new cutting edge and futuristic style of our lounge. The design takes cues from the characteristics and color of the F1-75, with a light show and LED screens showing special content created especially for our guests. Here they can also see live interviews with our drivers and key players from the world of racing, to explain what goes on behind the scenes, helping guests to get a good understanding of our sport. Guests will also be able to ask questions and enjoy discovering all the details and subtleties of this fascinating world. Using race headphones, they will be able to listen to radio communications between our drivers and the engineers during the sessions, for a truly immersive experience. The guests also get the chance to go down into the paddock, to see the Scuderia at close quarters over the course of the race weekend and spend time in the pit lane in front of the Ferrari garage from where they can watch the cars being prepared and the team practicing pit stops. It will be a truly electrifying weekend".
Formula 1 returns to Imola, one of Pirelli’s two home races (alongside with Monza), with the C2, C3 and C4 tyres nominated for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as P Zero White hard, P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Red soft respectively. This is the same nomination that was made for Imola last year, although the compounds are different with the latest generation of 18-inch tires. The tires are all-new but the track is just as it was last year, with a narrow, old-school feel. The asphalt dates from 2011, which makes the 11-year old surface reasonably abrasive. That’s why we don’t see the same double step between medium and soft as we had in Australia a couple of weeks ago: the more mature surface at Imola generates more grip and therefore more heat in the tires, requiring a more robust softest compound. The forces working on the tyres are generally equal between lateral and longitudinal, making it a flowing track where drivers need to find a good rhythm. It’s particularly important to get good traction out of the final Rivazza corner in order to have a strong run down the start-finish straight before a heavy braking area into the first corner: a key overtaking opportunity. Imola marks the first sprint session of the year, with rules that are slightly revised compared to last year, including more points on offer. From 2022, pole position will be recorded as the driver who goes fastest in Friday’s qualifying session - and this driver will be the recipient of the Pirelli Pole Position Award.
The tyre rules are the same as last year's Sprint events though. Rather than having 13 sets of tires for a conventional weekend, there will be just 12 sets. These consist of two sets of P Zero White hard, four sets of P Zero Yellow medium, and six sets of P Zero Red soft. In addition, the teams will have up to six sets of Cinturato Green intermediates and three sets of Cinturato Blue full wets available in case of wet weather. The FIA announces that for the duration of the event the teams can leave the tires wrapped in their electric blankets and heated with a maximum temperature of 30 ° C for the whole night, in order to minimize any problems related to the cold. Pirelli, the main tyre supplier, also announces the dates for tyre development for the next Championship. On April 26 and 27, after the dispute of this Grand Prix in Imola, it will be the turn of AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, Alpine and Ferrari; on June 24, after the Canadian Grand Prix, Ferrari will be back at Mugello; on July 12 and 13, after the Austrian Grand Prix, will be the turn of Williams, Red Bull and Alpine at the Red Bull Ring McLaren; on August 2 and 3, after the Hungarian Grand Prix, it will be the turn of Mercedes and Aston Martin; while on September 13, after the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, it will be Red Bull's turn again. In this regard, the words of Mario Isola, Motorsport Director:
"Imola is an old-school, challenging track, where overtaking can be tricky, also because the circuit is quite narrow in places. So the strategy is likely to center around avoiding traffic, and effectively the teams start from scratch here in terms of tire knowledge - as the compounds are completely different this year, and last year's race also began on the wet-weather tires, before being interrupted by a lengthy red flag period. Generally speaking, Imola is a medium severity track for the tires, and it's a venue that is used quite frequently. This means that we might see a little less track evolution than we've been accustomed to at other circuits as the track is well rubbered-in already: the first round of the Pirelli-equipped GT World Challenge took place at Imola last month, which gave us some useful data. These are just some of the factors that the teams will have to take into account when establishing the tire strateg y for the opening sprint session of the year: another first for the 2022 season".
Returning to the technical aspects of this Italian circuit, the FIA declares the main straight of the pits as the only DRS area, confirming the choice made for the two previous editions of the 2020 and 2021 races. The detection point, or the point for determining the gap between riders, changed: last year it was 20 meters from Rivazza (turn 17), now the distance has been set back to 385 meters from the latter. The Enzo e Dino Ferrari racetrack in Imola is one of the few circuits on the Formula 1 World Championship’s calendar where only one DRS zone can be used for opening the mobile device. The detection point is not the only change made compared to 2021. Unlike the last edition, in fact, even the luminous panel number 13 has been moved to the right on the track edge of the track, after the aforementioned curve. In addition, a post was installed at the curb of turn 14, the first of the Variante Alta, while the double curb at the exit of the Variante Bassa at turn 19 was extended.
Taking advantage of the new regulations, on Wednesday, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams use one of the curfews granted during the season to carry out operations on their cars. In the case of the German team this is one of the eight curfews available; while for the Austrian and British stables it is one of the six made available. Before the start of the free practice session on Friday, the second unit relating to the internal combustion engine, turbocharger, MGU-H and MGU-K is installed in the car of Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon. The third unit of the exhaust system for Sainz and the second unit of the same component for Ocon. The second unit relating to the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit is installed on the car of Alexander Albon, while the second unit relating to the exhaust system is installed on the car of Max Verstappen, Sergio Pérez and Kevin Magnussen. There are also changes for the single-seaters of Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, on which the third unit of the same component is mounted. All drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those usable in the maximum number established by the technical regulations.
Speaking of regulatory changes, we cannot fail to deepen the controversy related to speed under the safety car, a topic that animated various minds in the paddock during the Australian Grand Prix. The FIA actually releases a statement after the criticisms made by some drivers towards the speed held by the safety car in the previous Melbourne Grand Prix, on the occasion provided by the British car manufacturer Aston Martin. The note explains that the primary function of the safety car is not pure speed, but the safety of drivers and officials. The speed of the safety car is generally dictated by race control and not limited by the capacity of the car, it is emphasized that the impact of the speed of the safety car on the performance of the following cars is of secondary importance with respect to the safety of the drivers. Furthermore, after the collision between the Japanese driver of the AlphaTauri, Yuki Tsunoda, and the German of the Haas, Mick Schumacher, in Australia under the safety car regime, the three race judges, Eduardo Freitas, Niels Wittich and Herbie Blash, issue a press release in which they anticipate the revision of some rules during this regime, a topic of discussion in future meetings with the pilots.
This weekend the Federation not only reiterates the rules under the safety car regime, but, given the excessive controversy in the paddock area, is keen to reiterate through a new publication the guidelines that all drivers must follow when overtaking to avoid running into investigations by the commissioners. In the case of overtaking both inside and outside, in order for a car that is about to be overtaken to give sufficient space to the car it is about to overtake, the latter must have a significant portion next to the car it is facing in overtaking phase. These guidelines also apply to overtaking in chicanes and S-curves. For this Grand Prix, like the previous one, the FIA appoints the German Niels Wittich as race director. Former Formula 1 driver Mika Salo is appointed as assistant commissioner. The Finnish has performed this function in the past on several occasions, the last time during Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2020. The safety car and medical car are supplied by the British car manufacturer Aston Martin, as in the previous race.
This weekend in Imola seems to be a day to mark in the calendar for the professional successes of different drivers and technicians: The FIA elects Gian Carlo Minardi as president of the single-seater commission of the world organ, Italian entrepreneur born in Faenza and founder of the former Formula team 1 Minardi, replaced by Scuderia Toro Rosso in the 2006 championship, known from 2020 as Scuderia AlphaTauri. Another Italian, Simone Resta, current technical director of the American team Haas, receives the prize of the second edition of the Confartigianato Motori of Imola, his hometown, on the eve of the race. The Chinese driver of Alfa Romeo, Zhou Guanyu, makes his debut on the Imola circuit for the first time in the top category, after having raced in some minor categories in 2015 and 2016. The Italian Gianluca Romani, specialist in the field of aerodynamics, arrives in Ferrari after spending three years with Mercedes and finally, the long-awaited confirmation of the contract renewal until 2024 for the Spanish driver Carlos Sainz with Ferrari. At Maranello 21 April 2022, Scuderia Ferrari is pleased to announce that it has extended its agreement with Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard, who made his debut with the Maranello squad in the 2021 season, will thus be part of the team to the end of 2024.
"I am delighted to have renewed my contract with Scuderia Ferrari. I have always said that there is no better Formula 1 team to race for and after over a year with them, I can confirm that all my expectations have been exceeded. Putting on this race suit and representing this team is a great honour for me and I really look forward to keep enjoying our journey together. My first season at Maranello was solid and constructive, with the whole group progressing together and the result of all that work has been clear to see so far season. I feel confident and hugely motivated after this renewal as it shows the trust in me and now I can’t wait to get in the car, to do my best for Ferrari and to give its fans plenty to cheer about. When I joined the team in 2021 the goal was to help Ferrari get back to the winning ways and to fight for both Championships. Now, the F1-75 is proving to be a front-runner, which truly allows me to chase those goals. I have said several times that I believe we have the best driver pairing in Formula 1 and so, with every passing race, it seemed a completely natural step to extend Carlos’ contract, thus ensuring stability and continuity. In his time so far with the team, he has proved to have the talent we expected from him, delivering impressive results and making the most of all opportunities. Outside the car, he is a hard worker with an eye for the smallest detail, which has helped the whole group to improve and progress. Together, we can aim for ambitious targets and I’m sure that, along with Charles, he can play a significant part in fuelling the Ferrari legend and will write new chapters in the history of our team".
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal & Managing Director of Scuderia Ferrari, adds:
"I am also aware that I am not solely responsible for successes or failures. We are a team and I feel like one of many elements. We have all reacted together, we have always remained united. And that gave me the push, we had the skills to be competitive. We had already proven it in 2017 and 2018 and we have grown since then. But I also knew that we would have to go through two seasons of sacrifice before we took the redemption opportunity of the new rules. We now have tools that are predictive and able to quickly identify a problem and its cause. They will be critical to developments as well. I feel the trust of John Elkann and Benedetto Vigna, otherwise I would not be here. I have a relationship of trust and transparency with them. The constructors' championship represents the solidity of a team. To be clear: a drivers' title would be extraordinary, but I think our objective goes beyond that. I see hunger, not just the desire to win a single GP or a title. Much more. We want to bring Ferrari back to being a model for F1, for the adversaries. Representing a model, this means Essere Ferrari, feeding the myth of Ferrari being a reference in every field".
To Sainz and Binotto’s words are added those of the Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc:
"I'm very excited. In the first three races things have gone our way for us. We seem to have a very competitive car this year and now to be in this position here at the home of Ferrari, where we have had huge support in previous years, is special. However, I think the most important thing for us is not to want to overdo it, which is an easy risk when there is excitement and things are going well. We have to stay focused on our work. I'm not thinking about first place in the championship right now. Probably in a few races if I'm in the same position I'll start thinking about the championship, but it's not the case now. I can remain calm and optimistic, concentrating only on work. Knowing that I have done everything I can with the team to be 200% ready for the race reassures me. Ferrari's place is definitely up in the air. Both myself and the Scuderia want to be at the top. It's been sad to see Ferrari struggling in the last two years, but we've worked hard. I think for everyone on the team the last two years have not been easy, but they have helped us change our way of working and made us a more prepared team. I feel much more prepared now than I did two years ago. As a team we are also much more prepared to be in this position. This also instills confidence in me for development and the rest of the season. I think we have a pretty competitive car overall, but looking at the first races we expected to be slower than we actually were. At Imola the track should adapt slightly better to our car, but I hope there will be no surprises and that on the contrary we will not be slower than we expect. The fight, however, is so close that it is difficult to say which team will have the better of it. There will also be rain, which we don't know yet with these cars and it's a condition in which we have struggled in the past. It will be very important tomorrow to adapt immediately to these conditions and to be in the optimal window from the start"
Ferrari has denoted a better speed in the straights than Red Bull, which felt the competitiveness of the Red in some of the previous races:
"It's something we are looking at and we can not underestimate it. It was particularly evident in Jeddah, while in Australia it was less obvious, although still present. I think on some tracks we might pay the price of having less straight-line speed and we will probably adjust for those circuits in the future. I don't want to look at others too much. The approach we've had for the last two years has been to not look at the competition, because after the step back in 2020, we wanted to get back into something else. By focusing on ourselves, though, we found a lot more performance than by looking at others, and I think that's the approach I want to keep this year: not focusing too much on what Mercedes and Red Bull are doing, but focusing on ourselves and identifying our weaknesses. that aspect in particular r has been our strength over the last couple of years: looking at our weaknesses, working on them and fixing them. I'm pretty confident that if we can do that, the results will come. The guys at the simulator did a great job, because the correlation was very good and this also helps us to have a support for the development of the car".
Among the topics Charles addresses, he can not miss the recent announcement of Carlos Sainz's contract renewal until 2024:
"I'm very happy. Obviously Carlos is a really good guy, as well as a good driver. We have a great relationship, but the most important thing I think is that we give the same directions to the team. We want the same things from the car and I think this is extremely important for the future of the team, which is to push both of us in the same direction This is what has already happened in the last year and a half and we are already seeing the benefits. Having Carlos on the team for the next two years is great. Stability is very important. I know this because I signed a long contract with Ferrari and knowing you are in the same place for so many years is good for your confidence, to feel good psychologically and also allows you to work on the long term, of which we have already seen the benefits. I think we are a very strong line-up, we push at every race, which is great for the team and for us".
Sainz adds details about the agreement reached with the Maranello-based factory, already established during the winter:
"To be honest, it was easy for both parties after such a good first year as we had. Having the opportunity to make the announcement in a place like Imola, in front of the fans and on a weekend like this, I think it was ideal. Anyway, it's no secret that it's important for a driver to have his mind completely focused on performance, without focusing too much on what the future holds. Since I discovered this aspect at McLaren, I have been very explicit about it. I already had my certainties throughout the winter, and as a result I had no worries in the first few races".
And about the Australian Grand Prix, the Spaniard admits:
"It was not a great weekend because there were many external factors, but you have to know how to react in the best way. Sooner or later a mistake had to happen, I was coming from I don't know how many consecutive races with points. This will make me stronger. It's better that it happened at the beginning of the season, I can learn and use the experience for the next 20 races. Ferrari is now not only the best team in F1, but also the best team to be in at the moment. We are winning so much, we have the fastest car on track in most sessions. Signing a two-year deal with the best car on the track is good. I've always felt I was in the middle of the fight and with 20 races left anything can still happen. What I do know is that I'm not missing much [to be at Charles' level]. I fought for pole in all the races. I missed maybe a tenth in Q3. I'm a little short, that keeps me motivated. Charles has done an outstanding job with this car. He's making a difference as a driver, but I don't feel far behind. I know I'm up against a very strong challenger, but even though I don't feel completely comfortable with the car yet I'm still close there. As soon as I can make that click everything will get easier easier".
The reflections on the Australian Grand Prix have not finished on the eve of the Imola weekend and for many teams they are a starting point for making predictions on the possible results of the upcoming Italian race. Guenther Steiner, Team Principal Haas, to the question: It was a challenging weekend in Melbourne which resulted in both drivers narrowly missing out on points. How would you assess the Australian Grand Prix and what positives can you take to Imola?
"The whole weekend was very challenging, starting with little issues on Mick's car and Kevin not being on top form because he didn't feel well. Nevertheless, with all these hinderances we still got close to points. In the race we didn't get lucky with the safety cars which could've helped our strategy but we put Australia behind us. Not as a negative, but it's a very competitive championship this year and you need to be perfect to get points. What I take to Imola is that the car is still performing, and we will perform as we go on. I hope we get to Imola having fewer unfortunate instances".
The interview with Steiner continues with reflections on the new rules changed:
"After three races in this new era of racing, we’ve seen lots of on-track battling and more opportunities for following and overtaking. Do you think the new set of regulations has delivered what it had promised in terms of livening up the racing spectacle of Formula 1?"
And Haas' team principal says:
"Absolutely. It seems to be working - the cars look interesting, they're all different - but they can all be competing. At the moment it seems that some cars are better for one race track, some are better for another. I think the new rules have overdelivered. We also focus on the new Sprint races confirmed by the FIA, one of which will be held in Imola: it will be challenging because we've only got one free practice session to find a good set-up. With the difficulties of these cars and the inexperience we have got with it, it won’t be easy but it’s the same for everybody and who is better prepared will have a better car so we will be trying our best like everybody else. I think it is a good thing for the championship to have these sprint races and I really look forward to it".
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will be the first Sprint race of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. As teams are still getting to grips with new cars and new procedures, how do you think this added factor will impact race preparations?
"For sure it will be challenging because we’ve only got one free practice session to find a good set-up. With the difficulties of these cars and the inexperience we have got with it, it won’t be easy but it’s the same for everybody and who is better prepared will have a better car so we will be trying our best like everybody else. I think it is a good thing for the championship to have these sprint races and I really look forward to it".
Last month, Formula 1 announced that it would continue to race in Imola until 2025. With the emergence of new locations joining the calendar, do you think it’s still important to protect and continue racing at circuits with such history, or is it just as important to expand the sport into new territories?
"It’s a mix. Imola came back out of nowhere during the pandemic because we didn’t have enough places to go. We realized a good thing and Imola realized a good thing and they found the finances to have Formula 1 there. Does it stay? I don’t know. Will others be coming? For sure. Will others be going? For sure. I think it’s one of those things where there is not one right or wrong answer, it is something in between to see how everything goes economically in the world, culturally and where the interest is".
Kevin Magnussen raced here once before in 2020, where you unfortunately had to retire during the race through gearbox issues. What are the distinguishing traits of the circuit and do you think this track will suit the VF-22?
"Imola is an awesome track but the characteristics and speed-wise - corner speeds and straights - make it a more average track. As it has a bit of everything, and this car is all-round good, I think we should be able to do well there. I’m looking forward to it because it’s an awesome track".
To maximize a flying lap of this track, we often see drivers riding the kerbs, with these new cars is that achievable without damage or will the racing line need to be adapted?
"The cars are lower and they’re also stiffer, so kerb riding is a little harder than it used to be with the old cars. We’ll see, I hope whatever challenges these new cars have we can still be in the competitive range in terms of kerb riding. Again, I think our car is all-round very strong so it should be alright".
This is the first Sprint event of the season and your first experience of taking part in a Sprint event weekend with an altered timetable. What are your thoughts on what you saw last year and now with the added opportunity for drivers to score points for finishing eighth and higher, do you think we’ll see more racing?
"I think it’s good that they’ve added points for finishing eighth and higher because there’s a pay bonus for points so I’m going to go all out, and the racing is going to be great! I think it’s interesting as last year sometimes it was a little less exciting as people were more conservative because there wasn’t as much at stake. Now that there are points, I think we’ll see more tough racing, so I’m looking forward to it".
Last month, Formula 1 announced that it would continue to race in Imola until 2025. With the emergence of new locations joining the calendar, do you think it’s still important to protect and continue racing at circuits with such history, or is it just as important to expand the sport into new territories?
"As a racing driver I feel strongly about going to tracks that have history, but I also see that Formula 1 has to expand, and that it is good for the sport to go to new places and reach new fans".
"I think Imola is always a nice track to go to - I enjoy it a lot. I’ve driven around it quite a bit and I’m really excited to get there with these nice, new cars and hopefully be able to do well".
To maximize a flying lap of this track, we often see drivers riding the kerbs, with these new cars is that achievable without damage or will the racing line need to be adapted?
"It seems like kerb usage in general will be a bit lower compared to last year but I’m sure that drivers and teams will find ways to still be able to take as much kerb, and hopefully we will be too".
The first Sprint event of the weekend - what were the learnings from last season, what are the extra considerations with this new era of car and with the added opportunity for drivers to score points for finishing eighth and higher, do you think we’ll see more racing?
"With our car I think it’s actually quite alright, we should be able to manage to put everything together quite soon in the weekend. We have a good idea, we don’t need to two huge changes so hopefully we’ll be right in there and be able to have a good weekend".
Last month, Formula 1 announced that it would continue to race in Imola until 2025. With the emergence of new locations joining the calendar, do you think it’s still important to protect and continue racing at circuits with such history, or is it just as important to expand the sport into new territories?
"I think it’s definitely important to be at race tracks that have history and hopefully we’ll have some German races coming in soon, as that’s still missing".
At McLaren, Lando Norris, remembering the excellent race of the previous year, declares:
"I'm excited to be back in Imola! It was a great race for me last year, scoring my first podium of 2021. We're not back fighting for podiums just yet, but hopefully we can keep moving forward and get the most out of this weekend. The circuit is fast, with some iconic features which should be interesting to tackle in the new cars. The Sprint always adds an extra bit of excitement for the fans so I'm looking forward to seeing how the weekend plays out. Australia was a more positive weekend for us, but we know we still have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be. Let's keep improving, keep learning more about the car and be ready to take advantage of any opportunities that come up".
Team mate Daniel Ricciardo, despite the unlucky period, adds:
"I'm still on a high after a strong result in front of an incredible home crowd in Melbourne, so hopefully we can keep the momentum going as we head to Imola With the sprint format returning, anything is possible so we've got to get our heads down, keep going with the improvements and extract as much as we can from the car. It's a technically difficult track that's fast and flowing, so it will be good to see how these new cars get on. Last year we got a nice haul of points in Imola, and I am hoping we can get some more this year. Whilst the weekend in Melbourne was definitely a positive step forward, we still have a long way to go to get the car in the place we want it to be. Thank you to the team for all the work they're doing on the car, both back at MTC and at the track. Let's keep pushing".
Finally, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl’s words:
“We have a good track record in Imola since it returned to the calendar in 2020, with double points for the team at both races. We aim for the same this year, but a track like Imola often creates opportunities and the addition of the sprint format for this weekend means we’ll need to be operationally sharp and ready to capitalize. Imola is a great, historic track and it will be interesting to see how the improved overtaking from these new cars will impact racing. With the grid for Sunday determined by the Sprint, there is bound to be plenty of exciting racing for the fans, now with the added incentive of points for the top eight on Saturday. A P5 and P6 finish in Australia was a great result for the team and a testament to everyone's hard work at track and back in Woking. Let's keep fighting, keep taking these steps forward and give everything we can this weekend".
Aston Martin’s driver Lance Stroll talks about the imminent Emilia Romagna Grand Prix:
"It has been cool to see Imola not only return to the F1 calendar but re-establish itself as one of the classic tracks that we visit. Few circuits are more old-school: there’s so little run-off and you must make set-up trade-offs for a fast and flowing lap, so it’s about bravery and finding the limits as quickly and consistently as possible. It will be interesting to see how the changes to F1 Sprint liven up the race weekend, too".
Team mate Sebastian Vettel adds:
"Imola is a real test of driver and machine, and that's what every F1 circuit should be. It's hard to imagine we'd ever be racing around Imola in ground-effect cars - that's really something special, and a bit of a throwback to the 1980s, which is cool. I'm looking forward to getting back into the car and getting up to speed. Imola has never hosted a Sprint race before, so I'm also excited to see how that plays out".
Lawrence Stroll talks about the future of Aston Martin:
"We're focusing on the future. We're in a growth phase, with a new factory being built, with a lot of new people joining the team. We're where we are now, but I look at the future ahead of us really with high expectations. We're really focused on the future and we're excited about it. It's amazing what's going on at Silverstone, with the factory growing week by week. Every time I go it's shocking to see the progress and to see how fast the building is going up. There are also so many people joining the team, making the project, as it currently grows, extremely exciting. Nothing changes overnight - it's about understanding, developing, improving over the course of the season, but I look forward to the next few years. Everything that's happening at Silverstone is really transforming our facility because of how quickly the new factory is coming up and how many people are coming in. Since I joined three years ago, the team has grown by over 200 people and even more are joining every day. It's really all about the future for us and that's exciting. I think anyone in the pit lane would be happy to get rid of the porpoising and go half a second quicker. I think it's still early days though: I'm confident that, as a team, we can improve and push this car further, but in Formula 1 you develop as others develop, so there's a race for development. Will we get to compete for victory by the end of the season? No. For podiums? Probably not even. Hopefully, though, we'll be in a position to fight for points. It's obvious that the lower these cars travel, the more load they generate, but then of course you have to take into account the porpoising. It was quite violent for us. In certain contexts we were limited by the bottom breaking up and we had to curb the porpoising for this reason. Maybe that's why Ferrari and Mercedes accept more aerodynamic rebound than we do, probably because they have a more robust and less fragile bottom. It's a matter of understanding these cars and how different they are from their predecessors - I think it was quite a surprise to everyone".
The Williams, after a complex period, characterized by the fear of a definitive withdrawal of the britain team from Formula 1, is back on track with a new spirit of confidence. Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, says:
"We have enjoyed our recent trips to this great circuit for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and we are looking forward to another good weekend this year, especially off the back of an encouraging result in Melbourne . The unusual two-day format here in 2020 gives us some understanding of how the Sprint event will work this weekend; getting the setup right in a single free practice session before going straight into Qualifying is not easy, but it is a great challenge and opportunity. The circuit retains many of the elements that previously made it such a daunting and thrilling race circuit, including the overall fast-flowing nature and unusual anti-clockwise direction. The famous corners at Piratella, Acque Minerali and Rivazza are all as demanding as they ever were and the run from the second part of Rivazza to the chicane at Tamburello is now flat-out as it passes the new pit complex. There have been some minor changes to the DRS zone f or 2022, which may affect the racing. The tire compounds are the same as Saudi Arabia and are a good compromise for this circuit, especially given the Sprint session on Saturday. Following the intensity of the opening 'flyaway' races of the season, it has been good to get the cars back to the factory and refreshed ready for the next series of events. We’re all looking forward to a European race and the challenge of the sprint qualifying format".
Nicholas Latifi adds:
"I'm super excited to hit the track in Imola. It's the first Sprint Event of the year so I'm looking forward to that format and the opportunities it offers. It also provides an additional challenge for the teams, which will be even more interesting whilst we are still learning about these new cars. The Emilia Romagna track is one that has tended to suit our car in previous years and it's certainly one that I enjoy driving; a real old school circuit with a lot of great corners and curbs. I'm looking forward to it ".
Alex Albon concludes:
"It's my first time competing in the Sprint event format, so I'm looking forward to the slightly different approach to the weekend and both the challenges and opportunities it will bring. Historically the team have gone quite well at Imola, so we'll get our heads down and see what we can do. We had a great race out in Melbourne and the team did an incredible job with the strategy, so hopefully we can use that momentum to keep pushing this weekend".
Like the other teams, Alpha Tauri drivers also reveal their post-Australian GP impressions and comment on the Federation's choice to introduce the first Sprint race of the season in Imola. Pierre Gasly argues:
"It was a little bit of a long trip to Australia just for a few days there, but it was worth it, as I scored points again. It was a weekend that finished well despite complications early on and was certainly less straightforward than the first two rounds in terms of pure speed. But in the end, we remained concentrated and got a result, although I was unlucky to have pitted just before the Safety Car, which cost me five places. But I put my head down and, in the end, we managed to pick up two more points. That's not a lot but it's important to be in the points whenever possible. We know we still have work to do, we must bring more performance to the package and that's the plan for Imola this week. Then, looking at the other teams, we saw that McLaren and Alpine were very quick so that with the three top teams out in front, we found ourselves 11th in Qualifying. It's very close in the midfield, but we don't need to find much performance to be able to improve uld be nice if we can make a step forward in Imola. It’s a track I really like, to start with because it’s very close to the factory, so everyone wants to do really well as we have more support from the crowd than usual, and it has a very special atmosphere. Apart from that, I also find the track technically very interesting with a lot of quite unique corners, some very fast ones, some atypical ones. I’m always happy to drive there, I’ve had some good Qualifying performances, particularly in 2020, when I was fourth on the grid and it would be nice if we could get our best result of the season so far this Sunday. Overtaking is quite tricky, as the track is narrow, so it will be important to focus on Qualifying on Friday, before dealing with the added challenge of the Sprint Race on Saturday, which this year is another opportunity to score points".
Yuki Tsunoda concludes:
"I enjoyed visiting Australia, the atmosphere was very nice with its location near the sea, but on track, it was a tough weekend and we struggled more than expected, particularly on the long runs. From my side, I was quite happy with how I progressed over the week, given that it was a new track for me. Right from FP1, I felt confident but in the race me and the team struggled a lot. We already knew the areas we needed to improve so we have been working hard to be better in time for Imola. This is going to be an interesting weekend at what is a home track for us, and we will also have the Sprint format for the first time this season. Last year, I was worried about the Sprint Qualifying with only having one practice session before Qualifying, but this season I feel much more confident, also because Imola is a track I know well as I have driven a lot of laps there. Also, I now know how to approach the Sprint weekends and hopefully it will end in points for us rack is slightly narrower than previous ones we have raced on this year, and it will be interesting to see what these new cars are like to drive there. I’d imagine that the way you can ride the kerbs will be different this year and we will see how the car behaves in FP1 and then adapt quickly for Qualifying. I think I am well prepared with the driving I have done there in the past and the simulator session I did last week. I’ve been living in Italy for a while now, so this will definitely feel like a home race, especially as I can stay in my own house every night, which is close to the track and nicer than being in a hotel. It will be a bit strange, but I think it will be a more comfortable arrangement allowing me to concentrate on the race".
The real twist of the season is undoubtedly related to the problems and difficulties that are being encountered in Mercedes. In this regard Toto Wolff states:
"Melbourne was a great weekend for Formula One, the atmosphere was incredible, and it was wonderful to be back in Australia in front of so many fans. For us, the race went better than we expected, especially after a difficult Friday. George and Lewis were both on strong form all weekend and delivered a useful haul of points for the Team. We learned a lot and really maximized the opportunities available, and that's what we need to keep doing. We know we haven 't got the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull right now. But we're working hard to reduce their advantage, and it's been brilliant to see everyone across the factories pulling together to achieve this. There's been a lot of hard work over the Easter weekend in the factory to bring improvements to the car and get it ready to head to the next race, and that shows the team's dedication to turning the situation around. Of course, we must be realistic, it will take time to make the gains we want, but we ' re learning as much as we can from each race and finding avenues to push us forward. Now we look ahead to Imola and the first Sprint event of the season. It's an historic, old-school circuit with a challenging layout that the drivers really enjoy. Qualifying is important owing to the narrow track, while its sweeping nature really puts the cars to the test. We're looking forward to seeing how 2022 machinery tackles Imola".
At Alpine, the words of technical director Pat Fry are relevant:
"Imola is a classic Formula 1 circuit. In fact, I've been going there for 30 years, so it's certainly seen a lot of different Formula 1 cars in that time! I think it will be interesting to see how this year's cars can race at a circuit like Imola and hopefully we are able to put on a show. We, like everyone, are trying to develop the car as quickly as possible. We're working through bringing weight saving items to the car when and where we can. Although it's a Sprint race weekend we still have a new floor upgrade that we will test, so we'll see how that fares in the sole Friday practice session. It's a step in the right direction and it will be interesting to see how it performs on track".
These workds are followed by those of Esteban Ocon:
"Three races finishing in the points is obviously a good result for me, so I am for sure happy with how the new season has begun. Personally, it's good to show consistency with solid performances in these early stages in a season but there is room for improvement in many areas. As a team, we've had mixed results and not being satisfied with where we stand today is testament to the progress we have made over the last months. It will be nice to race in Europe again, it feels like it has been a while! As far as Sprint Qualifying goes, I am all for the evolution of the sport and whatever we can do to make it more exciting for the fans. I personally like this format and I am eager to get out there and try to score as many points as possible for the team".
To conclude, there are the words of the two-time world champion Spanish driver Fernando Alonso:
"I think performance wise we seem fairly consistent at three different circuits so far, which is a positive sign. We know it's going to be a big development battle this year There are twenty races to go, so there is plenty of time to recover some points in the standings. On Sprint Qualifying, I think it's good to mix it up and we saw last year that in some races the format worked well. look back then Silverstone was particularly enjoyable for me. Formula 1 has made some changes to the format for this season, we'll see if these have paid off. It's a tough but not impossible track to overtake on, so I hope we see some action from the field on Saturday and Sunday. There are a lot of points now available on three Saturdays this year. I'm hopeful we can come away with some points this weekend".
At Alfa Romeo Racing, on the eve of free practice on Friday, Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal says:
"Imola is a very important race for our season: it is, obviously, one of our home races and an event of great relevance for Alfa Romeo, so we are particularly keen to do well here. It is also the first European race of the season, and with it comes the first chance to bring some significant updates to the car. We have a new package making its debut here, updates to the floor, and we are confident they can help us make another step forward: at the same time, we know everyone else is developing and it will be interesting to see how the pecking order looks like when we hit the track - especially with the sprint qualifying format reducing practice times. It's going to be a thrilling weekend and I am looking forward to us delivering a spirited performance in front of the incredible Imola crowd".
Valtteri Bottas continues:
"There's definitely a great feeling within the team: when you know you get into every race weekend knowing you can fight at the front of the midfield and be in the mix for some big points, it's a powerful dynamic and it just fills everyone with confidence. We saw in Australia we can be really competitive and we have what it takes to be just behind the leading cars: but we also saw how small all margins are and how every detail - qualifying preparation, the timing of a Safety Car - can have a big impact on the final result. That's why we have to be fully focused and execute every step of the weekend to our best. Imola is a big chance for us: it's an exciting track, somewhere we can battle, especially with these cars, and I am confident we can be up for a good result. I can't wait to be on track and show what we can do in one of the team's home races".
Zhou Guanyu ends:
"I am really looking forward to this weekend's race in Imola. This is one of the historical venues of Formula One and I am really excited about seeing this place full of passionate fans. I think the weekend is going to be spectacular and to tackle some of these corners in a Formula One car will be an incredible experience. I have only raced here in F3, so it's not a completely new track for me, but of course doing it in the C42 will be an interesting process. It's also my first sprint qualifying weekend, so I'll need to get up to speed quickly in FP1, but I am not worried: we are well prepared and we will be ready. I had a solid start to the season and I'm proud of the work we have done so far, but I want more and I keep working hard with the team to get more and more forward in every race. I feel we are making some real progress and I am confident we will have another chance to fight for Q3 and a place in the top 10 here in Imola".
On Friday, April 22, Formula 1 returns to the historic Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari for the qualifying of Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. From the early hours of the morning, a fake and incessant rain falls, forcing the organizers to postpone the start of the first free practice session, which will obviously take place on a wet track. Despite the not favorable weather conditions, the first free practice session is dominated by Ferrari, with a first and second time by Charles Leclerc: the first with eight tenths of an advantage over the second. The two Italian cars dug a deep groove compared to the times of the other drivers on the track. Max Verstappen is only third, almost he was a second and a half behind the Ferrari drivers. Behind the world champion there are the two Haas, who precede the other Red Bull Racing driver, the Mexican Sergio Pérez. The session is characterized by many driving errors, caused by the difficult track conditions, even if, during the session, the drivers alternated the use of wet tires with that of intermediate tires. All these errors resulted in many yellow flags, which cost Kevin Magnussen the cancellation of a time.
Talking about Magnussen, it is to say that before the start of the free practice session on Saturday, the second unit relating to the energy recovery system is installed on his car, while the second unit relating to the energy recovery system goes to Zhou Guanyu's car. Both drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those which can be used in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. Same for Ocon, with the second gearbox and the second transmission installed on his car. During the free practice session on Saturday, the best performance is surprisingly George Russell’s one, who faced the session with soft tyres and little fuel, to better simulate the conditions that will be found in the afternoon Sprint. At 81 thousandths from the British there is Sergio Pérez and behind them Leclerc, who preceded the other Mercedes. Due to technical problems, both Valtteri Bottas, who will replace the chassis, and Daniel Ricciardo, did not run. The other McLaren driver, Lando Norris, was also able to make a few laps, due to the need for his mechanics to fix a failure in the braking system.
At 5:00 p.m. it seems that the weather will be fine and it will not rain as happened during this morning’s last sessions, although there are still clouds. Track temperature is of 15 degrees, while the air temperature is of 12 degrees, with 83% of humidity. The race directors claim the track is dry, especially if compared to the first session of the free practices, but it seems to be still slippy with a dry line coming. The drivers will have the chance to gain crucial positions for Saturday, when will be held the first sprint race of the season. This mini race will decide who will start in pole position on Sunday and will give some points to the first eight drivers for the race to the Championship. The green light starts the Q1 and the drivers have 18 minutes to go through the Q2. Almost all drivers have opted for medium tyres, except the two Ferraris and Zhou with the slick tyres. The first to get on track are the two Mercedes.
"Pretty dry line out here".
Says Russell to his radio team. Hamilton scores 28.105 in the first sector, 57.825 at the end of the second sector, finishing in 1'27"214 and taking the Q1 lead temporarily. His teammate Russell scores 58.297 in the second and finishes his first lap in 1'28"096 in the second position. However, it is Bottas’ turn, he scores 33.432 in the second sector and finishes in 1'27"468, taking the second position, followed by Zhou at +0.531, thus, Russell finishes in P4. Meanwhile, Sainz, the two McLarens, Alonso, and Albon get on track to warm up their tyres. Hamilton’s leadership ends soon as Stroll takes P1 with 1'23"419, followed by Vettel at +3.125, and Hamilton finishes in P3. Ocon starts his lap, scores +3.388 in the second sector, compared to Stroll’s 54.984, and finishes in 1'28"361 in the ninth position. Perez finishes his first lap in 1.26.725 and takes P3, making Hamilton, Bottas, Zhou and Russell slip down to one position each. Verstappen starts his lap, scores 31.252 in the second sector, finishes in 1'25"515 and takes P2.
However, Bottas manages to take again the second position, by finishing in 1'24"593, followed by Verstappen (+3.125), and Alonso (+2.219). Perez is slipped into sixth position, behind Vettel (1'26"544). The seven-times World Champion Hamilton is seventh (+3.795) and Zhou slips at the eighth (1'27"745), followed by Russell (1'28"096) and Ocon (1'28"361). At 6 minutes from the Q1 start, suddenly Albon’s Williams car starts to get fire as his rear brakes overheat. A tyre explodes and debris scatters across the track, especially at acque minerali, and a McLaren car drove out burning carbon debris. Luckily, Albon does not remain injured and manages to come back to the garage where his team extinguishes the fire. The red flag starts to wave and the countdown stops at 12.06. Just 10 drivers have scored a time. Indeed, without times are the two McLaren, the AlphaTauri, the Haas, the Williams, as Albon did not manage to end his lap, and the Ferrari.
The Q1 starts again after 10 minutes, at 5:17 p.m. The stewards had to remove all the detritus from the track. Ten minutes to go and Stroll starts his lap: he scores -0.107 in the first sector, -0.987, in the second and -0.539 and remains in P1. However, Alonso scores 1'21"363 and steals the lead from Stroll. The Aston Martin driver starts to slip to the fifth position, as Verstappen gets on track again, takes the second position with 1'21"487, followed by Ricciardo and Ocon. It is the turn of the two Ferraris with used soft tyres at 9 minutes to the end of Q2. Sainz drives fast in the first sector but it seems he has made a mistake in the last sector, so he has lost some precious seconds and finishes in 1'28"522. Leclerc takes P4 in 1'23"672. The track is gradually becoming dryer. The two Ferraris try again. Sainz is faster than Leclerc and scores 1'20"319, taking P1, followed by Leclerc (1'20"590). The third is Norris (1'21"232), while at Norris’ back there are Alonso (P4) and Verstappen (P5). Gasly is finishing his third sector and taking the tenth position with 1'22"539. His teammate Tsunoda scores 1'22"136 and takes the seventh, at Bottas’ back (1'21"858). Magnussen is improving his performance and finishes in 1'22"410 (P11) followed by Stroll, Gasly and Russell.
Vettel closes his lap and climbs the placement from the P17 to the P6 position (1'21"705). Meanwhile, the two Mercedes are slipped at P16 (Russell) and P18 (Hamilton) at five minutes to the end and risk being excluded from Q2. Therefore, they try again to score a new best. In the second sector, Hamilton records -0.522 (compared to Gasly’s 54.886), and +1.237 in the third. While Russell closes in -0.865 in the first sector, compared to Gasly’s time, and +1.228. With 1'21"547, Russell takes the seventh position, while Hamilton is in the eighth position (1'21"556), at two tenths of Russell. Daniel Ricciardo finishes his lap in 1'20"671 in the fourth position, followed by Checo Perez (1'21"170) and Lando Norris at +0.913 to Sainz. The yellow flag starts to wave in sectors 1 and 2 because Latifi has got a snap-down as he probably goes on a wet patch and there just drop but the track is immediately clear. Zhou closes a good lap in 1'20"458 in P5. Hamilton and Russell are again at risk. Bottas in P16 position and he starts another lap in these lasting 3 minutes. He scores 1'21"114 and takes the P9.
Schumacher is seeking to make it through Q2 and he takes the P14 position and makes Hamilton and Russell in P15 and P16. Meanwhile, Alonso climbs the placement of five positions and takes P5 (1'20"406). Hamilton tries again: in the first sector, he scores +0.044 compared to 26.35, -0.128 in the second, and finishes in 1'22"226, taking the thirteenth position. Russell scores +0.299 compared to Sainz 25.882 in the first sector, +0.884 in the second and +1.592 in the third, taking P11 (1'20"667). The World Champion Max Verstappen is finishing his lap, scores 1'19"295 and takes the temporary lead position of Q1 but Leclerc before the end of Q1, scores 1.18.796 and puts a gap between him and his adversaries of five-tenths. Bottas improves and records 1'20"415, taking P9. Schumacher, who starts in P15, records 1'20"422 and takes P10. The two Aston Martin try their best while the time is running out. Stroll finishes in 1'20"342 in P8, while Vettel is at his back. Alonso takes the eighth position from Stroll (1'20"198). Meanwhile, Hamilton, who was still trying to get his best, crosses the finish line, and scores 1'20"470, taking the P14.
However, his teammate is out for another best too and records 1.20.383, takes the P12 and all the drivers from the thirteenth position slip of one position. Therefore, Bottas finishes P13, Schumacher P14 and Hamilton P15. The Q1 ends and Leclerc is in the first position, followed by Verstappen and Sainz. For the first time in this season Zhou is fourth (1'19"730), followed by Perez, Ricciardo and Magnussen. Norris has slipped into the eighth position (1'20"168). Alonso is ninth, followed by the two Aston Martin (Stroll at P10 and Vettel at P11). The two Mercedes managed to save from the exclusion zone as Russell is twelfth, followed by Bottas and Schumacher, and Hamilton is the last driver to qualify for Q2 (1'20"470) at 4 thousandths from Tsunoda. The drivers who will not take part in Q2 are Tsunoda (16th), Gasly (17th), Latifi (18th), Ocon (19th) and Albon, who could not come back to the track. Nicolas Latifi recognises that today’s qualifying was challenging.
"It was definitely a tricky session. With FP1 being full wet conditions and Qualifying being mixed it was challenging but it’s a challenge for everyone. My issue is still not having the feeling to really push the car; I don’t always have it in full dry conditions and mixed conditions usually only make it more difficult. It was good though to get the opportunity to drive the FW44 in full wet conditions as I am sure we will have other wet sessions throughout the year. Hopefully we can move forward in the F1 Sprint tomorrow and secure a better starting position for the race on Sunday".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, says that the mixed conditions and tomorrow’ Sprint format are tricky and they did not create occasions to make through Q2:
"The combination of mixed conditions and the Sprint format is very tricky and today we did not rise to the occasion. Alex suffered with a brake issue due to an incorrect switch position when switching to the slick tyres and Nicholas struggled to find full confidence in the car in the difficult conditions, but he did well to start ahead of Ocon. Our attention now moves to preparing the cars for the Sprint and Grand Prix, which are expected to take place in quite different conditions to today".
On the brake system issue in Williams’ car, Alex Albon says:
"Unfortunately, we suffered a brake system issue which ended Qualifying early for us. These things happen, and we’ll go away and investigate tonight so we understand what went wrong and how we resolve it. Thankfully, tomorrow’s Sprint event should offer us some opportunities to improve our position on Sunday’s starting grid".
Pierre Gasly is confused about today’s performance and says he needs to climb the placement tomorrow of many positions:
"I don’t exactly know what happened today. The track was at the driest on our last lap, but we were still knocked out so it’s very disappointing. We need to make a lot of positions up tomorrow, as we’re obviously not where we want to be. Firstly, we need to go away and analyse everything from today to understand, we clearly could’ve done better, and then hopefully we can make our way forward across the rest of the weekend".
His teammate Yuki Tsunoda says:
"We had brought a new update here this weekend, so we had expected to be in the midfield I think, but we struggled quite a lot today and the performance just wasn’t there. It’s a shame that we couldn’t maximise the opportunity, but we’ve got the Sprint tomorrow and then another race on Sunday, so there’s lots of possibilities. It’s our home track, so we’ve got a lot of experience driving here and hopefully we can make the most of the rest of the weekend".
Alpha Tauri’s Chief Race Engineer, Jonathan Eddolls is disappointed about having both cars knocked out in Q1 and explains that today was the first running with wet and intermediate tyres:
"Having missed the wet running in Barcelona shakedown, today was the first running on the 18" wet and intermediate tyres, so we had plenty to learn in FP1. Our wet performance was good, but the Inters struggled to warm up. The track conditions were borderline for Quali, but it quickly went to dry, however we didn’t quite seem to have the pace we expected in those conditions and that, combined with not being the last to cross at the end of the session, meant we just missed out on places in Q2, with Yuki just 0.004 from 15th. Having both cars getting knocked out in Q1, with many of our factory members in the grandstands supporting, is hugely disappointing and a big blow to the team, but we will go away and learn from it, regroup. We now have the Sprint to look forward to tomorrow, where the plan is to be aggressive! We can’t discard any surprises the weather may throw our way also, as we have seen how often it changes these last few days".
Finally, Esteban Ocon says that the team had a suspected gearbox issue that made him not complete the lap in Q1:
"Our qualifying ended early, so that was a tough way for us to end the day. We’ve had a suspected gearbox issue, which is why I couldn’t complete the lap in Q1 and we pitted straight away. We will be looking closely at what happened. Up until that point, the car felt good so it’s going to be all about getting it back for tomorrow in the Sprint and for Sunday’s Race. Still, there are two races to go this weekend, with potentially some rain as well, so there are still some opportunities to save our weekend. Let’s see what happens".
The Q2 starts at 17.37 and the drivers have 15 minutes to take one of the first ten positions and go through Q3. This time, all the drivers opt for soft tyres. The first to open dance is Carlos Sainz who starts his warm lap. He scores 25.700 in the first sector, 52.724 in the second and finishes 1'18"990, in the P1, followed by Norris (1'19"294) and Schumacher in +1.926. Vettel scores 1'19"957 and takes the P3. The two Alpha Romeo are finishing their laps and Bottas scores 1.20.192 in P4, while Zhou +2.44 in P5. The World Champion Verstappen has started his lap. He pushes in the first sector more than any other driver pushes and scores 1.18.793, taking the lead in Q2 from Sainz. The two Mercedes get on track. Russell closes his lap in 1'20"757 (P10), while his teammate in 1'21"138 (P12). Ricciardo takes P9 with 1'20"031. Magnussen is fifth (1'19"902).
Suddenly, the red flag starts to wave again, for the second time at 10.42 minutes to Q2 end. This time it is for Sainz, who was trying again a new best but he crashed into the wall at the exit of the Rivazza turn in the third sector. So sorry guys, says the driver at the radio team. It seems that while he was exiting the turn, he passed on the curbs and since his tyres were wet, he lost grip and crashed into the wall. Carlos gets off his car and appears to be ok. The qualifying stops for him and now, he is second. If he remains within the top ten of drivers in Q2, tomorrow he will start in P10 during the sprint race. Therefore, he could attempt to get a better position for the Grand Prix. At the moment, Verstappen leads the Q2 (1'18"793), followed by Sainz (1'18"990). Lando Norris is third with (1'19"294), followed by Perez (1'18"296). Leclerc is fifth (1'19"584), followed by Alonso (1.19.595), Magnussen (1'19"902), and Vettel (1'19"957). Ricciardo is ninth (1'20"031), Bottas (1'20"192), followed by Russell’s Mercedes (1'20"757), Schumacher (1'20"916), Hamilton (1'21"138), Zhou (1.21.434) and Stroll (1'28"119).
While the stewards are cleaning again the track and removing Carlos’ car, it starts to rain again, so it will be unlikely that the drivers could improve. At 5:50 p.m., Q2 starts again and the countdown is at 8 minutes to the end of Q2. However, no drivers get on the track, Stroll, Hamilton and Russell, who are among the drivers who need to improve to get into Q3, get off their cars. All drivers decide to remain at garages to wait until the end of Q2. If none tried a new best, then the excluded drivers would be the two Mercedes, Schumacher, Zhou and Stroll. As expected, the drivers decide not to try their new best and, at two minutes to go, Perez, Leclerc, Alonso, Vettel and Bottas get on track with medium tyres to become familiar with these track conditions before the Q3. Meanwhile, it seems that there is a disagreement within the Mercedes garage perhaps between Hamilton and Wolff. The Q2 ends and the drivers excluded from Q3 are Russell (11th), Schumacher (12th), Hamilton (13th), Zhou (14th) and Stroll (15th). Mick Schumacher says it is a shame that the reason for his elimination is he made a mistake at turn 7 that made him lose over a second:
"A mistake at Turn 7 led to me losing over a second so I think we would’ve been through. It’s a shame but now we have two more races to come and hopefully we’ll be able to fight our way through - the car feels great. Already in Melbourne we were able to fight pretty hard with the cars around us and one thing which was very positive was that we were able to keep the tires alive for quite a while. It’s all to play for tomorrow and hopefully we have a bit of luck on our side to be able to maybe get into the points".
On Mercedes’ side, George Russell says that the team:
"We've struggled to get the temperature in the tyre in the first few races, we're always seemingly taking a bigger jump on the second lap. We saw that in Australia when we compare to the Alpines and the McLarens; they were a first lap qualifier, and we were on the third or fifth lap doing a fast consecutive sequence. It was a bit of a shame with how the red flags panned out today but if there is a weekend to not be where we want to be, a sprint weekend is the one to do it. Not ideal, but we've got the chance to make up positions tomorrow. The Sprint Race will be interesting with these new cars as we can follow a bit closer, but I don't think there's enough laps with enough degradation for us to use our advantage there compared to our current rivals. We've got the Sunday race as well and we can only go up".
Lewis Hamilton is disappointed about today’s performance:
"Today wasn't a great session and naturally it's disappointing. We came here with optimism, everyone is working so hard at the factory but things just didn't come together. I think we underperformed as a team today. We'll work as hard as we can to move up in the Sprint Race. It's going to be a difficult race but who knows? Maybe we can move our way forwards. Each weekend is a rescue at the moment".
Says Andrew Shovlin, the trackside engineering director at the Mercedes:
"A difficult couple of sessions today; we have a car that doesn't generate tyre temperature sufficiently well and that has cost us today. We were moving towards a schedule of longer runs but with the red flags we couldn't get the laps that we needed and once the rain came, we were left in 11th and 13th with no chance to improve. This is not a great track for overtaking so we expect the rest of the weekend to be a challenge but we have shown that our race pace is better than our single lap and with both the sprint and the main race we have longer than normal to try and recover".
Lance Stroll is overall satisfied with his today’s pace, although he did not qualify for Q3:
"Despite the Q2 exit, I am positive about our performance today because we had good pace. We had a decent Q1 and finished inside the top 10, but Q2 was just very unlucky. After I locked up going into the chicane, we then had the unfortunately timed red flag, followed by rain, so I did not get another chance to improve. It is a shame we could not get it done on the track today, but I am hopeful for tomorrow".
Finally, Zhou Guanyu is pleased about today’s work because he finally reached the top five in Q1, as he deems he had the possibility to get into Q3:
"I am pleased about our work today: to get through Q1 in the top five was already good, especially considering the little practice I could do in these conditions with just one session before qualifying. The chance to get into Q3 was there, but I struggled a bit with the tyre warmup in my first Q2 run and, with the red flag and the rain coming afterwards, never got a chance to do another. Despite these circumstances, I am very happy to be in Q2 again. We are normally stronger in race trim, so I hope we can move up as a team in tomorrow’s sprint. If the track is dry, we stand a good chance, although you can never know how the weather will be like here. I am ready for whatever conditions there will be: we did well so far and hopefully we can carry on this momentum into tomorrow".
Q3 starts and the driver who gets on the track first is Alonso, followed by Bottas, Magnussen, Leclerc, Verstappen and Vettel.
"The track is much drier than I thought".
Says Leclerc to his radio team. Leclerc starts his first lap. In the first sector, he scores 29.448 and 1'00"243 in the second. In the second sector, the yellow flag starts to wave because Magnussen crashed into a wall in acque minerali. However, in few instances, the colour of the flag switches to the red one, so all the drivers must go back to the garages. No time on the board and the countdown stops at 8.51. The session resumes at 18.18 and it is time to get serious. It is raining again on the track. All the drivers opt for intermediate tyres. Alonso starts his lap. In the first sector, he scores 28.680, in the second, he gets out of the white line so he raises his foot and tries again. Magnussen is closing his lap in 1'30"035.
Norris and Bottas approach the finish line almost together. Norris is temporarily at the lead with 1'29"969, followed by Magnussen and Bottas (+0.471). Vettel is doing a good performance and closes in P4 (1'31"062). Meanwhile, Ricciardo has taken the lead with 1'29"742, placing himself before his teammate Norris. Leclerc is approaching the finish line. He takes the first position with 1'29"778 and two purples in the second and third sectors. It is Verstappen’s turn but he is two tenths slower than the Ferrari’s driver is, so he takes P2. Four and a half of time remaining till the end of this qualifying. Magnussen jumps up to the third position. Norris is doing better and closes in 1'29"131 in the third position. Verstappen tries again. He scores a purple in the first sector, -1.160 in the second but again there is a yellow flag in the third sector. It is Valtteri Bottas. However, Verstappen closes in 1'27"999 and takes the first position before the yellow flag sector. The yellow flag becomes red because Bottas' car needs to be removed. The time stops at 02.58. The session resumes at 18.38. The drivers start to warm their tyres.
"I have no grip, man".
Says Verstappen. At one and a half minutes to the end of Q3, Verstappen and Leclerc start their best. However, the yellow flag starts to wave in the second sector. Norris slips at acque minerali and crashed into the wall. The yellow flag turns into a red one again at 0.38 seconds to the end of Q2 but this time, the session will not be resumed. Therefore, Q3 ends and Verstappen is in pole position for tomorrow’s sprint race (1'27"999), followed by Leclerc (P2), Norris (P3), Magnussen (P4), Alonso (P5), Ricciardo (P6), Perez (P7), Bottas (P8), Vettel (P9) and Sainz (P10).
"Not bad but a tricky session. I liked that".
Says Verstappen to his team. The World Champion Max Verstappen is happy with his team’s performance:
"It was good out there today but also very easy to make mistakes, so luckily we mainly stayed out of trouble. We started on the slicks initially and then it started raining again, making the right call on how you wanted to prep your laps was key today and ultimately we chose the right one, so I’m of course very pleased with that. When I saw the yellow flags for Valterri I immediately lifted so there won’t be any trouble there, it does cost you lap time but luckily the lap was still good enough for pole. Tomorrow looks to be dry and we haven’t really driven these new cars a lot in the dry here so hopefully in FP2 we can understand the car a bit more in different conditions".
For Sergio Perez, it was a disappointing performance:
"Overall it’s a disappointing day but we need to remember it’s just the start of the weekend. It just didn’t seem to work out for me today, we got a few things wrong. It was important to get the temperature on the tyres and we couldn’t seem to get the right out lap, we were just warming up the tyres and then we had another red flag. I am pleased with the pace of the car though, I am looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully we are able to progress through the field during the sprint and get a good start position for the race on Sunday".
Christian Horner praises Max’s performance in today’s unusual qualifying:
"Max did a super job today, it was an unusual qualifying and the one lap that turned out to count was thankfully the lap we banked and there was just too much rain for anyone to respond".
Regarding Checo, he says:
"It was a shame for Checo because I think he would have been up there as well today with a clean lap, but that’s encouraging for the F1 sprint tomorrow. Now the challenge will be to hold onto the lead tomorrow - we have got to get a good start, convert it and go from there. The aim tomorrow is to try and bag as many points as we can before the race on Sunday".
Charles Leclerc says that qualifying ended not as he expected but he is overall satisfied with P2:
"Qualifying didn’t end exactly as I wanted it to, but starting the race from P2 isn’t too bad. It was a tricky one. Q1 and Q2 were all about making it through to Q3 - and then pushing hard. I did one strong lap in the last session, then decided to abort my second lap to save the tyres for my last two runs at the end of Q3. Unfortunately, that never happened because of the red flags. It’s a shame, but everything is still possible. We’ve been competitive in all sessions so far and have the potential to fight for the win tomorrow".
In contrast, Carlos Sainz is sorry for what happened today:
"This is a very tough one to take and there is little to say other than sorry to the entire team and every fan out there. I wasn’t even pushing that hard, as we had more than enough pace to make it into Q3 comfortably. The car surprised me with a snap and I couldn’t stop it before hitting the wall. Thinking positively, the weekend is not over yet and I still have the Sprint race and the Grand Prix on Sunday to try to recover. It’s a difficult moment but now it’s time to focus on what is ahead".
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director, is grateful for his team’s work but the timing of the fourth red flags worked against their fortune:
"Even though the result of today’s qualifying did not quite go in our favour, I still want to thank the team here and back in Maranello, because we have started the weekend on the right foot and we were immediately competitive. Unfortunately, today, what made the difference was the timing of the red flags. If the fourth had come out a few seconds earlier, then pole would have gone to Charles, but that wasn’t to be, so it went to Max Verstappen. Charles’ second place is still a good result and tomorrow Carlos will have the opportunity to fight back after what happened in Q2. These things can happen and it’s easy to understand how frustrating this must have been for him, given the potential he had demonstrated earlier. There’s still a long way to go this weekend, so now we have to reset and focus on tomorrow and Sunday. The F1-75 is on the pace and we have all we need to do a good job. A positive aspect today was that the car was also competitive on both wet weather tyre compounds. We never had the opportunity to run in these conditions and that confirms we are on the right path. Tonight we will work to identify the areas in which we can improve, because as has been the case so far this season, the fight with our main rivals will go down to hundredths of a second and every factor can make the difference".
Says a satisfied Kevin Magnussen, who claims that P4 is the best qualifying for Haas ever:
"First of all, what a result. It’s great, it feels amazing, I can’t really believe it - it’s that close to top-three. P4 is the best qualifying for Haas ever, so I’m really proud of that and the team. I went off, lost the car and went all the way through the gravel. I managed to just keep it going and do a bit of a four-point turn and get back on track. The car was just phenomenal, and I can’t believe we’re P4. It’s looking like it’s going to be dry tomorrow so we’ll just do the best we can, I don’t know what to expect. We’ll go and have fun and give it everything we’ve got like we did today".
Guenther Steiner is of the same advice:
"A very good day today. They were very challenging weather conditions and I know that is the same for everyone but after Australia we really needed this, and we bounced back. In Australia, we didn’t have a fantastic weekend but this weekend we all started right on Friday morning, confidence levels were high. Finishing with Kevin in P4 is fantastic - it’s another best for Haas F1 Team. For Mick, he was almost there, just a little bit missing but P12 is not a bad position to be starting the race so starting fourth and 12th, let’s see what we can do tomorrow".
Sebastian Vettel is pleased with today’s performance as it was his first time in Q3 in 2022:
"I am pleased with the job we did today. It was my first time in Q3 in 2022 and the first time this year for both cars in Q2, which is a great effort by the team. It took a while to get comfortable, but by the first run of Q2 I was pretty happy. In Q3, I only had one clean lap. On the second attempt, I braked late and ran wide in Turn Two, and then it was all red flags from there. It is a shame it ended in a bit of an anticlimax, but we should be able to have a good weekend from here".
Mike Krack, Team Principall, says:
"Starting ninth for tomorrow’s Sprint is a good achievement for Sebastian and a highly encouraging result for the entire team after our misfortunes in recent events. Sebastian had been right in the thick of it all afternoon. He reacted brilliantly to the changing conditions, setting competitive times in both Q1 and Q2, and was all set to challenge for a higher position before his progress was stalled by the multiple Q3 red flags”.
He recognizes that Lance was particularly unlucky due to the red flag in Q2 and then the worsening conditions:
“He had also been looking competitive throughout qualifying, but he will get another roll of the dice tomorrow and I am sure he will push hard. Finally, I want to say ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to the team here in Imola and the support back at Silverstone. Adapting to an evolving racetrack in changing conditions is never easy, but it is the sort of challenge that brings out the best in people. Everyone did a fantastic job today. We go into tomorrow’s Sprint feeling positive".
Says Fernando Alonso:
"It feels good to be in the top five after a messy qualifying with all of the changing conditions and red flags. With the wet weather changing the track all the time, anything can happen, so overall I’m pleased to be in the top five for tomorrow. The car felt fast in the last two rounds and I feel quite comfortable with the car here. Let’s see how we do tomorrow as there are points on offer in the Sprint and for the race on Sunday".
Alan Permane, the Sporting Director says that today the team faced:
"We’re left with a bittersweet feeling after tonight’s Qualifying as, unfortunately, the team faced mixed fortunes on either side of the garage. Esteban’s car had a gearbox failure in Q1 and we’ll fully investigate how that occurred. As we saw with Fernando, the car had strong pace today, so it’s disappointing that Esteban was not able to show his true potential, especially in conditions where we’ve seen him shine in the past. On Fernando’s side it was a relatively straightforward session. The car had good pace in both the wet and dry and Fernando was happy with the car’s balance across all conditions. He will start in fifth tomorrow on the clean side of the grid and that’s a very good place to begin the Sprint. Esteban, with a quick car, will certainly have an opportunity to make up some places, so his weekend is definitely not over. We’ll be doing our best tomorrow in the Sprint to set ourselves up for Sunday’s Race".
On McLaren’s side, Lando Norris is satisfied with his P3:
"Very happy. P3, which I’m a bit surprised by but I think a lot of other people made some mistakes and we took advantage of that. To be honest, I made quite a few mistakes as well. There was a chance we maybe could have done a little bit better, I think there was a bit left in it at the end and it would have been nice to go for that lap and attack one more time, but I just made a mistake and caught the white line. Apart from that, I’m happy and in a good position for tomorrow".
Daniel Ricciardo has mixed feelings:
"On paper it’s pretty good. I feel a little hurt because I think pretty much everyone in front of me did two laps and I just got the one because of the red flags. With the improvements on the second lap, I really feel I could be significantly further up, but that’s alright. I’m happy we had good pace and happy we’re in a good position and up the pointy end. We’ll fight hard for the rest of the weekend and I’m looking forward to the Sprint. It’ll be fun".
Andrea Stella underlines that both cars and the team were able to adapt through changing conditions
"We’ve had a positive start to our first Sprint weekend of the season. The car behaved well, across the wet and dry conditions we experienced today, while the drivers and the team operated very well to adapt through the frequently changing conditions. Unfortunately, there are no points on offer today, and we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’ll make sure our feet stay firmly on the ground, and we’ll prepare as best we can for the Sprint tomorrow and Sunday’s Grand Prix".
Valtteri Bottas says the team were doing amazing and could have been in a higher position than eighth until they had to stop the car for a technical issue:
"It was a really strong session for us until we had to stop the car for a technical issue. We are still investigating what it is, hopefully it is nothing serious and we can fix it quickly. It’s a bit of a shame as we had the potential to be higher than eighth, but it’s not a disaster on a sprint weekend: we are in a decent place to fight tomorrow and we can aim to make up some more places ahead of the race on Sunday”.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal, says the objective was to reach Q2 and Q3 with at least one car, so they succedeed in it. He explains that the red flag times disadvantaged Zhou:
"Our objective before the session was to have at least one car in Q2 and one in Q3, and in this regard, we accomplished it. Both drivers felt at ease in the car despite the tricky conditions and did well in the circumstances: Zhou was impressive in Q1 but the timing of the red flag in Q2 penalised him and he couldn’t improve when a spot in the top ten was realistic. Valtteri made it to Q3 and was looking good for a place in the top six, but unfortunately a technical issue we are investigating stopped him: still, P8 is a really good position and, with Zhou in P14, we can aim to claim some points on Saturday and some really good positions for Sunday’s grid".
Finally, Mario Isola says that today was the first real test for:
"This was the first real test for us of the new 18-inch Cinturato wet and intermediate tyres, which has never been tried out before in conditions that were as cold as today, so that was valuable information in the bank for us. On the whole the wet and intermediates tyres performed well. Some drivers did comment about warm-up, but that’s to be expected in these low temperatures. The hardest aspect to today was definitely choosing the right tyre at the right time between full wet, intermediate, and slicks, so establishing the crossover point – the right moment to switch between them - was key to that. In accordance with the rules for a wet Friday, the drivers now have an extra set of intermediates, and they will have to give one used set back after FP2. What we’re still missing is data on dry running, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings: maybe we will know more about that before the Sprint".
We must always believe in the work of the FIA, says Mattia Binotto about the timing of the red flags:
"We must always believe in the work of the FIA. There is a penalty if the referee blows the whistle. However, if we look at the first four red flags of yesterday, an average of 15 seconds elapsed from the incident to the display, while on that occasion almost 40 seconds elapsed. We are sorry, also thinking of Australia, where for a couple of seconds Carlos was unable to complete his lap. If the red flag had come out two seconds later in Melbourne, it could have changed his weekend. These are situations that have happened and in this case they were unfortunate for us. The group of sporting directors certainly needs to make their bones. I think that at this moment the best way for them to gain experience is to adopt a cautious approach. You also have to understand them, they are not born unlearned. On their part, there is certainly a desire to do well. I think the decision is always difficult, as it was for Masi in Abu Dhabi. In their place it is never easy nor obvious, so we have to believe in their work and try to help them when we believe that some things could have been done differently. It is a commitment that we as Ferrari have always taken. We have a good relationship with the Federation and we confront each other after every race. On the last run there was no chance to improve, everyone was slower than the previous run. Regardless of Norris, there would have been no change. From our side there is a bit of regret, because after the first lap Max continued to push, while Charles slowed down to preserve the tires for the following laps. I think that if he had pushed, he could have done better. Then you can't always guess, maybe if there wasn't the red flag he would have been right. I think that in difficult conditions like yesterday, being second on the grid is still an important base. If I look at the past seasons, we have always had difficulties in the wet, but this was not the case yesterday. Usually when a car is strong in the dry, it is also strong in the wet. If we were struggling in the rain in previous years, it's because the car wasn't even good enough in the dry".
Mattia continues and says that they are now experiencing what they have had in the past, especially during the 2020 season because the team is working well but criticisms continue to arrive because the results do not correspond to what is expected:
"Over the years I've never laughed and you couldn't laugh. I think when you're in a situation like we've been in the last two years, where you're taking criticism and not getting the results you want, you can't smile. The 2020 season was really one of suffering and when one is suffering you can't laugh. There was hope, though, because I had faith in this team, I could see that it was working well and so there was hope that we could really come back in 2022 with a competitive car. But you can only verify this when you go on track: Formula 1 is not an absolute sport that depends only on yourself, it also depends on what others do. You can be confident in your team working well, but you can't be sure about what others are doing. We have to remember what history has been. There have always been cycles. I was there in '99 and in 2000, when we didn't win the title for 21 years. Now we haven't had a title since 2007 and although it hasn't been 21 years, the situation is very similar. There are cycles that follow each other and as there were difficulties then, so now there are for us. If I look at 2017, however, it was an important year, because there had been a significant change in the regulations, with the increase in the track of the car, and the team had been able to make a very good product, able to fight at the beginning of the season with Mercedes, which until then had never had rivals. This is the same team that had been able to make that good practice in 2017. Since then we knew that we had to grow: we have progressed in experience, with a good exercise of the analyses of our limits and weaknesses and we also had shareholders who had the courage, the desire and the will to invest in these years not only in patience, but also in resources and tools necessary to grow to be able to make in 2022 the car that we see today".
On Ferrari’s team behavior he says:
"I never had any doubts about who made me do it, for two reasons. First of all, I don't think that my role is more important than that of someone else: we are a team and everyone makes his own essential contribution. I've seen a team that has remained united in the face of difficulties and this has given me the motivation to believe and move forward. It's very difficult to open a cycle, but there's no doubt on our part that there is at least the will to try".
About the three regulations, Mattia says:
"The financial regulations are new, complementing the technical and sports regulations. Today we have three regulations. The financial director is just as important as the technical one, because both have to manage a regulation. I'm not saying there are gray areas, but how one applies it is as much an element of competitiveness as the technical part. It is important to be attentive and, above all, for the FIA to make sure that everyone applies it fairly. I think the FIA has to make an extra effort on this front. It is a new regulation also for it, so when you go to make controls, the Federation must gain experience on what and how to control. From our side we try to help, because we think it is fundamental that these controls are conducted in a thorough manner. I don't want to contradict Carlos, but if we look at last year he adapted better than many riders who had changed teams, but it still took him a few races to reach his maximum level. I think that this year too it's part of his attitude to study and learn step by step, so much so that I'm convinced he'll get there very quickly. Already in Australia, regardless of the circumstances that have occurred, he was very fast and able to fight for the pole. Yesterday he also had the potential to take pole: looking at the times he did in difficult wet conditions, he was already very fast. So I think he is already adapting quickly to this race. If we ask ourselves about two races of adaptation, we are talking about nothing. Charles, on the other hand, has a natural talent of his own in being able to adapt to the track and to all conditions. This natural talent of his is emerging".
According to Mattia, it is early to see the real values of the Ferrari team, which will emerge after five or six races:
"I still think the real values will be seen after five or six races. To date we have only run three Grands Prix and to make a judgement would be hasty. I think we have to wait for Barcelona at least, because all of us, including the drivers, will have a better understanding of these cars and how to extract their potential. All of us will also bring some corrections and those who had problems at the beginning of the season will have time to correct them from here to Spain and only there I think we will have a more definitive judgment. Having said that, we're off to an encouraging start: it's not like the balance will change between now and Barcelona, but there could be some changes. We are not yet in the right place with regards to the wheel hop and it is a performance limitation, also because it takes away the drivers' confidence, and it is a potential for development. Solving the porpoising definitively would be a step forward for us, even if it is not the only one. I see it difficult for Mercedes to reach our level, because today if you look at their performance they don't have a single problem and I see them struggling a bit. They will definitely catch up: they are a strong, solid team and they won the last world titles. I'm sure that sooner or later they will correct and get back to being competitive, but for this year I see it as a difficult exercise".
Overall, what matters in these first races is to gain points, to be satisfied with the result, and to consolidate it:
"I think it is always important to think about the points and the satisfaction of the result must be a consequence. I think that in races like these at the beginning of the season, when you have a car as good as ours, the priority is to finish the race, because if it doesn't work out, you end up fourth and those are always important points. Rather than taking risks to gain a position, it's better to consolidate. I think our drivers have embraced our team concept and they know how important it is for the team to maximize the points haul. Then I always repeat it with each of them: if making one of ours win means preventing Verstappen or one of the others from doing so, it's always a good thing. Our real rivals must remain the others and must not be internal to the team. I am convinced that an order would be shared. I think the one between Charles and Max is a beautiful rivalry. If not this season, where it already exists, it will be in the next and I think that this is the beauty of this Formula 1. There is a generational change going on, with young drivers with great talent who have always fought. As a Formula 1 fan, I think it's great to experience that".
After yesterday’s qualifying, the drivers are ready for the sprint race that will finally decide the positions on the grades and will allow the first eight drivers in the sprint rank to gain more points for the race to the 2022 Championship. They have 21 laps to run 4.900 metres of the Enzo Dino Ferrari’s circuit. The drivers take the place of yesterday’s qualifying within the grid. All the drivers will use red tyres except the two Haas cars and Latifi, who both opt for the yellow medium tyre. It is time for the formation lap but something seems to go wrong for Alonso, who is not able to start. He has to cross the line before that all drivers cross it, otherwise he will have to start from the pit lane. However, he manages to make his car work and is able to take his position back. Greenlight turns on. Leclerc and Norris attack Verstappen. He does not start in a good manner and it seems he slips a little bit: “lovely gear sync that” said the World Champion sarcastically to his radio team. Verstappen complains that the Red Bull has always had these kinds of issues and they have been dealing with these issues for two years.
Leclerc manages to pass Verstappen. The Dutch resists Norris’ pressure and maintains the P2. At the acque minerali, Alonso duels with Ricciardo. Suddenly, the yellow flag starts to wave at the second sector because Zhou’s car stops at the exit of piratella’s turn near the barriers. The safety car makes his entrance on the track and it seems Alphatauri has some issues. Gasly’s car has a puncture in the front right because his car touched Zhou’s Alpha Romeo. "He can’t stay there", says Gasly to his team. The safety car could be an issue for the Ferrari drive Leclerc because the Reb Bull car is 10 km/h faster than Ferrari is. Even if Max could not use the DRS, Charles will struggle a bit to resist Max’s pressure at the race restarts. Zhou is out from the sprint race so tomorrow he will start in P20. Magnussen manages not to lose his car after the touch with Ricciardo and Checo Perez. However, there is an ongoing investigation because it seems that Magnussen and Perez waved on the straight before turn 1, while Formula 1 Regulations allows just a single change in direction. Tsunoda and Ocon have gained three positions while Perez has two.
After four laps with the safety car, the sprint race restarts at lap 5. The drivers go toward the first variant and Leclerc manages to resist Verstappen. Sainz starts to push on Alonso at Tosa turn but Alonso lengthens the pace. Meanwhile, the white and black flag targets Magnussen for weaving on the straight. If he violates the rules again during the sprint race, he will be eliminated. Max maintains a good pace but Leclerc manages to lengthen the gap. At Fifteen laps to the end, the race directors decide that drivers could use the DRS in turn 18 before the straight. Meanwhile, Sainz attacks from outside Alonso, the two drivers are wheel-to-wheel but Sainz succeeds to pass and takes P7. The Ferrari driver has gained three positions and now he will surely try to attack Ricciardo. Checo Perez tries to pass Magnussen, who is at 1.4 seconds from the Mexican. Checo passes his in turn 1 on the straight by using the DRS and takes P4. Now Perez tries to get close to his next target: Lando Norris. Bottas passes Vettel, takes the ninth position and tries to chase Alonso. Hamilton slips in P14 from P13.
Sainz could potentially use the DRS on Ricciardo and decides to exploit this opportunity, getting closer to the McLaren driver but not enough to pass him. Meanwhile, Magnussen is managing Ricciardo’s pressure. Verstappen is trying to get as close as possible to Leclerc but he is more than 1 second far from the Ferrari (1.257). Perez decides to attack Norris and the two drivers are wheel-to-wheel but he manages to win the duel against Norris. Now Leclerc has the two Red Bulls at his back. Ricciardo succeeds to pass Magnussen and takes P5, while Sainz passes the Haas driver too at lap 12. Alonso seems to be in crisis with his best. During lap 13, the gap between the first two drivers seems to increase. Ricciardo is almost one second faster than Norris is. Sainz decides to engage the Australian in a duel and succeeds to take the P5 from him. From the beginning of the race, Carlos gained five positions but Norris is too far and it seems impossible to overtake the +4.683 gap to Norris. Verstappen is continuously reducing his gap to Leclerc, from +1.345, 1.161 to 1048.
Bottas would like to pass Alonso but the Spanish driver uses the DRS and puts his car in the middle of the track. A new white and black flag arrives but this time for Alonso who weaved on the straight and Bottas finally passes Alonso. Sainz retrieves one second in each lap to Norris and now he is at +3.517. Verstappen is not giving up his chance to take the pole position and now he is at +0.989. He cuts the chicane and this time, he could use the DRS at five laps to the end. Meanwhile, the Ferrari radio team says to Charles that he is having some issues due to graining. Verstappen opens the wing and he is close. Sainz decides to attack Norris at +1.320, as the McLaren driver is slower than the Ferrari driver is, and takes P4. At three laps to the end, Verstappen is really close to Leclerc and asks his team to let make him. At lap 20, in turn 3, he opens his wing and passes from the outside Leclerc. The Ferrari driver tries to remain close to the Red Bull and use the DRS at six tenths from Verstappen but he is having issues due to the graining of the red tyres, so he cannot hope to pass Verstappen.
The sprint race ends and Verstappen gets the pole position and 8 points. That’s it right? Yes, asks Max to his radio team. In P2, there is Leclerc (7 points), followed by Perez (6 points), Sainz (5 points), Norris (4 points), Ricciardo (3 points) and Bottas (2 points). Magnussen is the last driver to get points because he is in P8 and he gained just one point. At his back, the Alpine driver Alonso and Schumacher. Russell is in P11, followed by Tsunoda, Vettel, Hamilton and Stroll. Ocon is sixteenth, Gasly seventeenth, followed by Albon and Latifi. The last driver is Zhou who could not continue the sprint race. Leclerc says to his team it is weird. We have had more graining. Although confused due to the issues they had today, the Ferrari driver starts to wave to Ferrari tifosi, who supported the team both during yesterday’s qualifying and this sprint race. On Sunday, Verstappen and Leclerc will start again together in the first line. Max Verstappen is satisfied with his team’s performance especially after the issues he had at the start:
"We did well as a team and it is of course a positive day for us. I didn’t have the best start so we need to investigate what happened there but after that we had good race pace. Initially for the first 10 laps or so it seemed like the gap to Charles wasn’t really growing but then I think at one point the tyre degradation started to kick in a bit more and I could close the gap and I got ahead. Tomorrow is a new day and there are no guarantees, I still expect it to be very close and I the battle tomorrow will be difficult. We are very focused on what is ahead and we hope to do a good job tomorrow".
Sergio Perez is happy for his P3. The team managed to minimise the damage from qualifying and he was able to get a strong start and to progress through the field:
"I am happy with the result of the sprint and looking forward to tomorrow starting from P3. We managed to minimise the damage from quali so I am happy with that, it was a nice save and it was all we needed for today, anything more would have been a bonus. I got a really strong start and after that I was just progressing through the field, it got a bit messy with Daniel when we touched, but overall it was a nice sprint for me and we got some good overtaking done. I think there is some fine tuning we can do for tomorrow and hopefully we are able to do it to be in the mix for the win, which is the target. We certainly have good pace and I am looking to produce another solid weekend for the Team, hopefully we can come out on top against the Ferraris. We have seen in Melbourne and we have seen here already that it can change fairly quickly so either team can turn things around and we certainly expect the Ferraris to be strong. I got really close to Charles today near the end but it was just a sprint so let’s what we can do over race distance".
Says Christian Horner, who sees both Red Bull cars at the front of the grid:
"It was a great performance today by both drivers. All credit to Max, he kept his head, stayed patient and kept his position on the tail of Charles, we could see the Ferrari’s front tyre was starting to go, and when his opportunity to take back the lead came, he took it. Checo drove well today and made great progress up the grid to take some valuable points and put himself in a better starting place on the grid for tomorrow’s race. Max didn’t have the best start, but we’ve got the data from today, so we’ll need to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes tomorrow. But the good thing is we’ve now got two cars up at the front of the grid and we’ll hope to capitalise on that".
Charles Leclerc explains the reason for tyres’ graining due to too much push at the beginning to increase the gap between Max and him:
"The Sprint taught us some valuable lessons ahead of tomorrow’s race. My start was really strong, and then I got out of Max’s DRS zone by creating a gap and was confident until we started to have some graining in the closing laps. We may have paid the price for pushing too hard at the start, so that’s something we have to work on tonight. If we manage to cure that, it will be a good fight tomorrow".
Carlos Sainz is relieved with today’s performance:
"Today was a good day and I’m fairly happy with the comeback. The start went well and then I was able to pick up places one at a time, with strong pace and good tyre management all the way. It was a solid Sprint race but most importantly, we are back in a good position for tomorrow. After a difficult day yesterday, I want to thank all the tifosi for their support. It’s such a positive boost. The weekend is still not over and I will give everything tomorrow to deliver a good result".
Says Laurent Mekies, Racing Director of Scuderia Ferrari:
"It was a particularly busy Sprint from our point of view and the most important aspect of it was to have got Carlos back onto the second row, after he did a good job of moving up the order from tenth. Charles got a perfect start and was running at a very strong pace in the opening laps, although not quite enough to distance the Red Bulls. That’s why, in the closing stages, when he had a bit more tyre graining than Verstappen, he was unable to fend him off. Carlos was very adept at executing the race to the letter, in the way we had planned. He got off the line well and then he waited patiently in the opening laps before picking off all the cars ahead of him that were realistic targets. Having him on the second row is important for the whole team because it puts us on equal terms with our closest rivals in what I expect to be a very tactical race. We will see some cars running quicker at the start of the stints and others that will be stronger towards the end. We have to take all these factors into consideration and work out the best possible strategy. The race looks to be open and we want to give it our all to repay the many fans who have come to the Grand Prix to thank them for their support, not just this weekend, but especially when things were not going that well for us".
George Russell is not satisfied with the team’s performance because they had good pace but not they were not enough quick in the straight to get some progress:
"It wasn't very enjoyable for us today and it was difficult to overtake, we had some good pace but not the speed in a straight line to really make progress. The sprint races are very short and there isn't time for the tyres to start degrading, creating differences between drivers and cars, opening up opportunities. We didn't make strong starts today which is unlike us, we've made solid starts recently. Strategy is going to be key tomorrow, we'll have to do something different to our competition, that will give us opportunities to fight and move up the grid. It's been a difficult weekend so far for us, tyre warm-up has been difficult, we need to get on top of things and capitalise on what is possible tomorrow".
Lewis Hamilton highlights how the team is working hard to overcome the difficulties and to improve the car. He says that most of the people, who have been working in his team for 20 years, have been through these difficulties sometimes. So they need just to continue to work hard and progress through the year:
"Today is what it is - a lot of work is going on in the background but ultimately, we haven't got it right yet this year and everyone is working as hard as they can to correct it. The team have been through many, many tough years. Most of the people that I'm working with have been with this team for more than 20 years, so they've been through it. It wasn't the greatest of years in 2013 but we've had great years since then. We stick together, we try to motivate everyone. This is the situation that we are faced with and everyone's got their heads down, working. We are fighting to understand the car and improve and progress through the year. That is all we can hope for right now".
Says Toto Wolff:
"What we saw today was a car without enough of a performance differential to the midfield cars to make the overtakes. If we were running in free air, the picture would be similar to previous races where we moved forward but behind the cars in a DRS train, the car didn't have enough performance to make progress. Point-scoring needs to be the minimum for tomorrow and we know that isn't any where near our expectations, so it's a humbling experience. We understand our problems, we have a direction to unlock the potential that is within the car to bring us much closer to the front but at the moment, we don't have the key. Therefore you just need to grind away and rely on the science and the physics. The passion and determination to improve is there in every team member".
Andrew Shovlin says that the team hoped to get some positions today but:
"We were hoping to move forward this afternoon but we've ended up back where we started with George and slipping back one place with Lewis. The starts were OK, the drivers both lacked a bit of grip on the first lap to attack but also got boxed in position with cars around them and the outside line through turn 2 to 4 was moving quicker. For the remainder of the race, both drivers were affected by being in a DRS train and just couldn't gain on the cars ahead. We're going to have to prepare ourselves for a tough afternoon tomorrow. The longer race should allow the cars to spread out more which will help but we've got a lot of ground to make up if we want to get into a good points-scoring position. There’s less data than usual on the slick tyres heading into the 63-lap race tomorrow, which makes it more complex to predict the strategy. But if it stays dry, we should be looking at a one-stopper as it’s not especially easy to overtake at Imola and there’s a big time loss of 28 seconds, which is the longest of the season. So prioritising track position is likely to be the main consideration. The most versatile way is to start on the medium. This leaves the most options open as there’s a wide pit stop window on this tyre, giving the possibility to then switch to the hard tyre at the right moment. Those wanting a more focussed strategy could choose to start on the soft tyre and then switch to the hard but that is less flexible. As usual the weather (and therefore the actual wear and degradation rates) encountered on race day will be decisive".
Guenther Steiner, Haas‘s Team Principal, says the team expected a better result but Kevin struggled with the balance:
"Maybe we expected a little bit of a better result, but it seemed that Kevin wasn’t really happy with the balance. On the other side, Mick did a good job and gained two positions for tomorrow’s starting grid. All in all, we scored a point which is a positive and Mick is up two positions".
Kevin Magnussen comments the team’s tyres strategy:
"We were super surprised to see everyone on softs, that’s not what we wanted to see, but we judged that the softs would degrade too quickly so we went for the mediums. Everyone just seemed to pass me at the beginning of the race and then it kind of reset so we were on the same pace, at least with Ricciardo and Alonso. It’s nice to get a point today and P8 - we would normally be happy with P8 in qualifying - so let’s look at the positives. We’re starting in the top 10 tomorrow for the main race and hopefully we’ll be able to score some more points".
Mick Schumacher thinks they have chosen the right tires:
"I think for us, we definitely chose the right tire. We had some good battles but unfortunately still not quite in the points, so hopefully for tomorrow we will be in a position to do that. Obviously fighting with a lot of cars around us, one of them being Seb (Vettel) which was a great fight, was good fun. We’ll have to wait to see how it is with higher fuel but everything we’ve learned from this morning was promising".
Yuki Tsunoda is satisfied with today’s result as he had a good start and gained few positions, which is an important factor in this circuit:
"I’m happy with how today went; I had a good start and gained a few positions there, which I think was the turning point for my race because the start really is key here in Imola. After that, the car seemed good, I liked the set-up and how the car behaved so was able to trust it and gain another position. The pace was better today but it’s still not that strong, compared to the cars around us, so there’s still some performance to find with this package. Obviously, we’ve still got some work to do to get into the points tomorrow, but we’ll work hard tonight to get ourselves into a good position and we’ll see how the race goes".
Different opinion has Pierre Gasly, who complains about the contact with the Chinese:
"This weekend is not going the way we wanted. Zhou didn’t give me much space, it’s not a great place to be side-by-side, and unfortunately there was contact, but that’s just the way it is sometimes. After that, the car suffered some damage and it wasn’t easy. If it could rain tomorrow, that would be great for us, as I think with our current performance we will struggle a bit, the straight-line speed just isn’t there this weekend. We’ll really look at the strategy tonight and try everything we can tomorrow to move forward".
Jody Egginton, AlphaTauri’s Technical Director, is satisfied with both cars’ balance with the soft and medium compounds as he saw during FP2:
"The balance of both cars on both the soft and medium compound was fairly good in FP2, so in terms of preparation for the race we had covered as much ground as possible and had a good read on the tyres. The other variable going into the race was the weather, with some forecasts suggesting a risk of rain for the race start. This did not manifest itself, so the tyre call was straight forward, with the Softs being the preferred option for ourselves and the majority of the other runners. In terms of our performance in the Sprint, the grid positions we had with both cars following a suboptimal Qualifying meant the race was always going to be harder than it should have been. However, Yuki made good progress to finish 12th, battling the Mercedes pretty much the entire race. His progress was of course positive, but it also leaves us wondering what would have been possible, had we achieved the Qualifying positions we were capable of. Pierre has had a tougher race, having contact with the Alfa Romeo on the first lap, meaning he had to stop for tyres and a front wing change. This dropped him to the back of the field and forced him to try and fight back through the field. Although Pierre passed both Williams, and showed a good pace, he ran out of laps to make further progress finishing in a train of cars. Our focus now shifts to tomorrow’s race, where we need to ensure the tyre learning from today is well applied in order to get both cars moving further up the field again. It won't be easy, but the pace shown today is positive and the target of getting into the points is clear".
The weekend did not go well for Alex Albon:
"We didn’t quite have the pace of the other cars around us so I was having to push harder, which then destroys the tyres. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle. We seem to be struggling slightly more on the softer tyres, so we need to keep working on that. We’ve made up a couple of places for the race, so tonight we’ll focus on what we can do in the race and keep pushing".
His teammate, Nicholas Latifi, says they struggled during this first F1 Sprint:
"It was a tricky afternoon for us. It was good to get the first F1 Sprint event of the year under our belts but we seemed to struggle. We tried something different to most of the field but we have to see what we can do to improve our race management and our overall pace for tomorrow. It’s a longer race so there could be opportunities and hopefully we can have a better end to our weekend".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance comments on how both cars behave during the Sprint:
"It was good to see the car in the dry conditions and we were reasonably pleased with what we found in FP2. In the Sprint we expected degradation on the Soft tyre but felt that overall, it offered the best opportunity for Alex to progress. With most other drivers opting for the same choice, there was less opportunity than we had hoped for, but he was still able to improve his starting position for tomorrow. Nicholas chose the Medium compound hoping to gain on people towards the end of the race, but he too suffered with some degradation, which denied him this opportunity. The forecast for tomorrow looks mixed and with the Grand Prix offering more strategic options than the Sprint, there is still a lot to unfold in Imola".
Sebastian Vettel complains that the team was not able to reach the first top 10 position:
"It was a shame that we were not able to hold onto a top 10 position, but I think the Safety Car did not help us and we struggled with some graining on the Soft tyres late on. I managed to defend strongly in the first few laps, which created a train of cars behind me. Mick [Schumacher] had the advantage of being on the Medium tyres and, once he got past, I lost a few positions quite quickly. I just did not have the pace to hold on. The Sprint always allows you to learn a lot about the car and what to expect in the main Sunday race. One thing we saw today is that the Soft tyre will not be the preferred compound tomorrow".
Lance Stroll says the team did not have a significant pace today. However, he enjoyed his duel with Hamilton:
"We did everything we could today, but we just did not have the pace to make up significant ground. I enjoyed battling with Lewis [Hamilton] - he kept me on my toes! I have enjoyed having the Sprint format return because it is a great challenge to have just one practice session before qualifying on Friday and then racing on Saturday. It helps spice things up a bit. Now, though, we will go away and look at the data to see where we can improve for tomorrow. There is a chance of mixed weather conditions, so, hopefully, we will get a bit of rain and the race will come to us".
Mike Krack Team Principal comments both drivers’ today performance:
"With our current performance we knew going into today’s Sprint that it was going to be difficult for Sebastian to stay in his starting position. And, given the strength of DRS around this track, he was then powerless to resist the attacks from behind. He fell back a couple of places and will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix from 13th. Lance was unlucky in qualifying yesterday and got stuck in a long train which meant he was unable to make progress. As a result, he finished where he started - in 15th. This was an eventful first Sprint of the season, with plenty of racing up and down the whole field, and there is still plenty to play for in tomorrow’s Grand Prix".
Esteban Ocon recognises that today it was a challenge for them to gain positions so P16 is the best the team could have achieved:
"It was a tricky race overall today and it was always going to be a challenge for us to gain places. To finish in sixteenth was probably the best we could have achieved. I had a decent start, avoided the incidents and from there it was a train with the cars ahead. It was difficult to progress, but tomorrow, I’m confident we can do more. Scoring points is very much our target. We gained a good understanding on the tyres today, which will help with our strategy. There could be some rain too, and, as we know in Formula 1, anything can happen".
For Fernando Alonso, today’s Sprint race was disappointing as the team had many issues especially with tyres degradation:
"We weren’t fast enough today, so it was a disappointing Sprint Qualifying for us. There was a lot of tyre degradation and our start was far from ideal, so we need to look into that tonight. We knew that it was going to be tough to keep Perez and Sainz behind with the pace they have, so we thought seventh was possibly a realistic position today. But, with the tyre graining, it was made harder to achieve this. We have tomorrow to recover and today is almost like a Q4! We will review our tyre selection and will see what the weather is going to do tomorrow, because it looks like there is a chance of rain. There’s definitely more to play for".
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal, is of the same advice:
"It was a disappointing Sprint Qualifying for the team today, which leaves us with some work to do for tomorrow’s main race. Unfortunately, Fernando’s race was compromised from the start when a poor launch meant he was always on the backfoot and in defensive rather than offensive mode. From there, he wasn’t able to progress any further and we have to identify some of the areas that will make our car more competitive in race trim. On Esteban’s side, he was able to benefit from the early incident to cars ahead to gain some positions, which means he’s slightly better placed on the grid for tomorrow’s race. Tomorrow, with half an eye on the sky, and some unpredictability in the forecast, will be a challenge and we’ll give it our best to have both cars in the points at the end of the main race".
Valtteri Bottas thanks the Alpha Romeo team who put the car back together after yesterday:
"First of all, I want to thank the team who did a great job putting the car back together: there were so many things they had to change but they were brilliant and thankfully everything worked perfectly. I always trust the crew to get the car right, but they had a big task ahead of them and they delivered. Once we got racing, it was a fun afternoon with a lot of battling and some nice overtaking. I had a good, close fight with Fernando [Alonso] which was enjoyable, but overall it was an exciting Sprint for me. I had a bit of wheelspin at the start and I lost a few places, but after that my performance was strong. The car felt really good in terms of balance and we had good pace, so we should be in a strong position for tomorrow as well".
Zhou Guanyu is disappointed with the end of his race, especially because his car allows him to be more competitive. On the touch with Gasly, he explains his point of view:
"It’s obviously disappointing to end a race like this, especially because we have a good car that allows us to be competitive. I was in a hard but fair fight with Pierre [Gasly] and Lewis [Hamilton] throughout the whole of sector one and the beginning of sector two, I made a move on Pierre in turn nine and I was ahead going into the braking zone. I got a big hit on the exit, and that spun me into the wall: it was a big surprise but that was the end of it. It’s a shame as we had a good opportunity to gain some places, the car has quite a bit of damage and it’s going to be a lot of work for the mechanics, unfortunately. Now we need to focus on making a comeback tomorrow: we still have a good car and you never know what can happen. The team is working in the right way, our upgrades work and we saw today that overtaking is possible. We will do our best - we made it into the points from last at turn one in Melbourne and we’ll try to do it again this time".
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal, has mixed feeling with both cars’ performance:
"It’s always a bittersweet feeling when you have a strong result with a car but the other fails to finish, but in a sense we can take it as, effectively, it’s just qualifying today. Valtteri delivered a really determined performance, putting in some good overtakes and bringing home two points, and the fact he was racing at all is to the credit of the crew, who did an incredible job to rebuild his car from scratch after yesterday’s technical issues. Unfortunately, Zhou was caught in a first lap collision that ended his race: we need to assess the damage ahead of tomorrow but he has the means to make up ground. The main takeaway from today is that our car looks really strong in race trim and we can aim to have a good result tomorrow".
Lando Norris is happy with his P5. He recognises that he did not have enough pace to get close to Verstappen and Leclerc and then Perez:
"A tough Sprint! I just didn’t have the pace to keep up with the guys in front, but we got the best result we could today and a few points, so I'm happy. We’ve got a good position for the race tomorrow, we can fight for some more points from P5. There’s a few things to try to work on and figure out tonight, apart from that, I'm happy".
Daniel Ricciardo did not know what to expect from the Sprint:
"I didn’t really know what to expect for the Sprint because we haven’t really had dry running this weekend. With the issue in practice this morning, it was really just a ‘go out and see what we got’ situation. I felt like I had a good start, so I was looking ahead. I got Fernando [Alonso] early and was looking to get Kevin [Magnussen]. But by the time we got to the braking zone I ended up sandwiched between Kevin and Sergio [Perez] going into the braking zone and made we made contact. Luckily there was no damage. I tried to settle into a rhythm, and I think we struggled a bit towards the end with the tyres but other than that it was pretty good and we scored some points. I think we had a bit more to show, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It should be good".
Andreas Seidl is of course happy with today’s results and positions in the grid:
"A very good result today, with both cars in the points but also good starting positions for tomorrow’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. P5 for Lando and P6 for Daniel was the best that we could do today. It is a good recovery after a difficult start to the day, with Daniel not able to run in FP2 after the team found an issue on the car, and Lando missing most of the session with a brake system issue. My thanks to the whole team here at the track, supported by the factory, and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP for the hard work today. We have another evening of hard work ahead, as we prepare to do it all over again in what we expect to be an exciting race".
Finally, Mario Isola comments on the teams’ strategic choices regarding the tyres and the consequences of these:
"Free practice today was the first session throughout the whole weekend so far when we saw some running on the slicks, with everyone concentrating on the medium and soft. The soft tyre actually performed better than many people expected, and this is why it was selected by the majority of drivers for the sprint. That came as something of a surprised: personally, I would have expected more drivers to gravitate towards the classic choice of a medium for the sprint race. There was a bit of graining observed on the soft but no more than would have been ordinarily expected under these circumstances, with a green track after yesterday’s rain and reasonably cool weather. So I think we can see now that there are a few interesting strategy options on the table tomorrow for the grand prix, assuming of course that it stays dry - which is not guaranteed”.
On Sunday, April 24, 2022 is held the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Despite the good weather that graced the fans at Imola in the morning and clouds letting up during the laps to the grid, there is a risk of precipitation in the air. After taking the first position in the Sprint, Max Verstappen is lined up ahead of Charles Leclerc, while Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz are third and fourth and Zhou Guanyu starts from the pit lane. The lights go out under a grey sky and the whole field is on intermediate tyres. Verstappen goes first, followed by Perez, while Daniel Ricciardo collides with Sainz at Tamburello, sending the Ferrari out and bringing out the Safety Car. Leclerc goes down in fourth behind Lando Norris, who passes him into the second turn; Kevin Magnussen goes from eight to fifth position, ahead of George Russell, who goes from eleventh to sixth. The opening lap is also good for Lance Stroll, who goes from fifteenth to evelenth position, while team mate Sebastian Vettel is up to ninth from thirteenth.
The race restarts for the fifth lap: Red Bull occupies the first two places, while Norris holds in third position ahead of Leclerc. This is the order until lap 8, when the Ferrari overtakes him on the main straight. Verstappen is three seconds ahead of team mate Perez by this point, Leclerc another three seconds back. Russell, up five places thanks to a brilliant start, starts a duel with Magnussen for the fifth position. He stalks the Haas from lap 11 to 13, while the Dane almost loses out to him at the second turn on lap 12, but still keeps his place. The Mercedes finally manages to pass at Variante Alta with a move on Lap 13. This battle helps Bottas who steals the sixth position off the Haas driver a lap later at Rivazza. Back at the front, Leclerc is just 1.3 seconds behind Perez, who is in turn six seconds behind his team mate on Lap 15. There is no rain yet so the tyres are suffering: it is Ricciardo who takes the risk to pit for mediums on lap 18.
Ferrari’s pit crew then emerges but Leclerc do not come in for a new set. Despite this, Red Bull decides to send Perez in for mediums. Leclerc emerges just ahead of Perez, but the Mexican’s tyres are now warmer and he goes past into the opening chicane. It is clear that Red Bull’s strategy is right, and they are back on course for the first two places. With no DRS yet, reaching the second position is difficult for Leclerc, while Verstappen continues, now 9.5 seconds in the lead. On lap 34, the track conditions are dry enough for DRS to be enabled. Verstappen still leads the race alone, 12 seconds ahead of his team mate, and laps Hamilton, in fourteenth position, on lap 41. On lap 50 Leclerc comes in for soft tyres, while Perez and Verstappen pit for the same compounds on the following laps. Perez is forced to mount an hard defence to defend his second place. However, then there is a twist: Leclerc spins and tapps the wall at Variante Alta on lap 53. This causes him to drop down to ninth position as he pits for a new front wing. He manages to recover to sixth position with late passes on Vettel and Tsunoda.
Verstappen wins by 16.5 seconds over team mate Perez, finding his way back into the championship fight with a decisive victory. Norris takes the final podium spot for McLaren. Russell ends fourth, 0.6 seconds ahead of ex-Mercedes driver Bottas. Yuki Tsunoda, who overtook Magnussen on lap 48 and Vettel on lap 54, ends in seventh place, gaining useful points for AlphaTauri. Vettel finishes eighth and his team mate Stroll tenth, so both Aston Martins bring home points having entered Imola without any. Between them is Magnussen, who fell to ninth position. Alex Albon takes the eleventh position for Williams: his pace on mediums is good enough to keep AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly behind by 0.6 seconds, while Lewis Hamilton ends thirteenth.
Esteban Ocon finishes eleventh from sixteenth, but is classified fourteenth, thanks to a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release on his pit stop, which saw the Alpine bang wheels with Hamilton’s Mercedes in the pit lane. Zhou Guanyu’s Sprint crash saw him start from the pits and finish fifteenth for Alfa Romeo, ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi in sixteenth. Mick Schumacher spun at the start and again on lap 25 in a duel with Latifi, to finish seventeenth. After his accident with Sainz, Ricciardo was the first driver to pit for slicks. The Australian came in once again for a set of hard tyres but finishes eighteenth. Alonso and Sainz are the two retirees. Verstappen made a better start in Emilia Romagna and, together with team mate Perez, ran for the first two places for almost the entire race. Verstappen never had troubles as he maximised his weekend with the first place in the Sprint and the victory on Sunday, with the bonus point for fastest lap:
"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! Everything today was well executed, coming into the weekend I didn’t expect it to be like this. It was more or less a perfect weekend, everything went well for us and we’ll of course enjoy today. I scored the maximum amount of points this weekend and we can be really proud of that as a Team, it’s a great boost. Today was all about judging the conditions, making the right calls and staying very focused and I think we did that very well. We need to keep focused and we know that at the next race we need to be up there again and keep this going".
Perez had a harder race than his team mate, because Leclerc was on his tail for most of the race. But the ability to extract pace from the car when needed and the great tyre management saw the Mexican driver obtain another podium:
"It was a tough race but an enjoyable one. Rule number one in these conditions is to finish. It was difficult because in these conditions it is easy to make a mistake and put a foot wrong but we managed a clean race and kept out of trouble, which was pretty important. I got a great start and the restart was good too, then I think the Team did a great job with strategy out there. On the intermediates I was really thinking to save the tyres but the degradation was high and Charles was really fast towards the end of that stint so I was happy to just keep him behind. The race was pretty intense with Charles, he was always within an undercut range and when we thought we had him under control he boxed and made things a lot harder for both of us. We were both pushing with cold tyres and, in fairness to Charles, it was easy to make mistakes. We have had such a difficult start to the season with reliability concerns and DNFs, so it was really important we brought it home today - it is a great result for the Team".
Christian Horner is very happy of the result and the performaces of his two drivers, who have drivent brilliantly to secure a one-two finish:
"This has to be one of our best ever results, to take the maximum points across the whole weekend, bar one, was incredible. Both Max and Checo have driven brilliantly to secure our first one-two finish since Malaysia in 2016. I’m very proud of the entire team, from everyone at the track and those back in the factory at Milton Keynes, they delivered a phenomenal performance, it’s just what we needed to rebound from Australia. It’s a long season and we’ll take a lot of confidence from this result and try to build on it in Miami in a couple of weeks’ time".
Norris started really well in third position, making out Leclerc and running always third before the Ferrari recovered. From this moment on, fourth place looked guaranteed as he had a relatively lonely race, before gaining the podium when Leclerc made a mistake:
"P3, what a result! We certainly didn’t expect that coming into this weekend, so I’m happy to be leaving with a podium. It’s been a tricky weekend, but the team recovered well to put me in a good position for today’s race. I had a good start and was managing my tyres to the end. At that point we were on for a P4, which would still have been a great result. We got a bit lucky with the issues ahead, but we did what we needed to do to be in a position to take that opportunity. Great work by the team at track and back at the factory, great pit stops and a great result. On to Miami".
The contact with Sainz at the start dropped Ricciardo to the back of the field. Then, he was the first to swap to the slicks but could not make any progress:
"It was a great result for Lando. However, it was one of those Sundays for me unfortunately. At Turn 1, I thought I got hit but it was actually me getting on the kerb. I then slipped off it and went into Carlos [Sainz], before being bumped by Bottas. We had a bit of damage and struggled for the rest of the race. It’s a painful one and it’s never nice to be involved in incidents. There’s not much more to say. Just one of those Sundays. We’ll celebrate Lando’s podium and learn what we can as we head to Miami".
Team Principal Andreas Seidl thanks the hard work of the team for Lando’s podium. He is unhappy about Ricciardo’s collision with Sainz, which damaged the car and changed the course of his race:
"P3 for Lando today comes as the result of hard work and a well-managed strategy. He drove a great race today. After a good start, he worked very hard, looked after his tyres, managed the gap to the cars we were racing and put himself in the best position to take advantage of any opportunity that came his way. Unfortunately Daniel had a first lap collision with Carlos [Sainz] which damaged the car and his race was pretty much over, but he was able to provide useful information to the team to maximise our result. The performance we saw this weekend on a different track and in a variety of conditions confirms the potential of the MCL36 that we have been unlocking race by race. That said, we remain realistic about the work we have to do to close the gap to the front of the field. Also our pitcrew again delivered good pitstops. My thanks today to the entire team, here at the track and back home at the factory, together with our colleagues at Mercedes HPP. It’s been an intense first Sprint weekend of the 2022 season. We head home now to reset, analyse what we have learnt here and prepare for our first visit to Miami".
Russell made a great start, going from eleventh on the grid to sixth in a move that made his race. He was able to pass Magnussen and run fifth, then gained a place after Leclerc’s spin:
"I'm relatively pleased to maximise the points available this weekend. Whether we're getting the most out of the car is a different story and I do think things have fallen slightly in our favour with these first four races. I'm really happy with this P4, but if we want to sustain this position in the championship, we need to find more pace. We've got these overall limitations with the car with the bouncing, and we know that we are struggling with the tyre warm up and this is the coldest race weekend we've had by far this year. I think it's been a bit of a trend since Bahrain, we've progressively gotten a bit slower in qualifying, and I think that's because Bahrain is the hottest we've experienced so there was no problem with tyre warm up. Then we want to Jeddah, and it was still hot, but the track was a bit smoother. Melbourne, a bit cooler. Here, very cold. And that's when you see the McLarens, Alpines, and Haases coming into their own but then struggling a bit more in the race. We need to find a better compromise because we were fortunate today, we had a decent result, but ultimately, we were starting far too low on the grid".
Hamilton dropped back at the start and, when he started to recover, had to pit for slick tyres. He lost time as Ocon was released into his path, and then he remained behind Gasly with no managing to make his way past:
"This was a weekend to forget, that's for sure. Behind Gasly, we both had DRS so it was impossible to overtake, and I lost a few places in the pit stop. This weekend, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We live and we learn, and there's not much else to say. I'll keep working as hard as I can to try and pull it back together, somehow. I hope for a better weekend in Miami, it will be difficult but I'll try and get myself in a positive headspace for the next one".
Toto Wolff affirms that the team has to work hard to give the drivers a quick car. He says there are a lot of problems but has still hopes for the next race and the future:
"What is clear from the entire weekend is that we have work to do to deliver our drivers a quick enough car. We saw with George what our car can do in clear air but it's still not good enough. We missed out on adjusting George's front flap at the pit stop due to an issue which meant he had a car that was setup for wet for the majority of the race so a great drive from him to hold on the P4 at the end. For Lewis, it was a simple case of us not giving him the tool he needs. He was squeezed by the Alpine, and undercut at the pitstop, which left him in a DRS train where it was impossible to overtake with our car. We are not producing a car good enough or worthy of a World Champion like Lewis so we need to look at things for Miami, make a step forward in our understanding and bring development to the car to fix our issues".
Engineering director Andrew Shovlin compliments with Russell for his good race, then talks about Lewis’ though weekend, even if he did not make faults on his own. He also explains that the cars have issues that the team need to fix:
"A great drive by George saw us salvage some useful points for fourth place from what has otherwise been a thoroughly disappointing weekend. He made a really good start and managed the transition to dry very well. We had an issue with the front wing adjusters at the pitstop and he ended up driving the dry stint with the wet aero balance. It was an impressive effort to keep Valtteri behind but the understeer prevented him from being able to close down the gap to Lando so he had to settle for fourth. Lewis has had a tough weekend from start to finish through no fault of his own. The start was OK and he'd moved up to eleventh after Daniel and Carlos tangled but we got undercut on the transition by a couple of cars, lost a bit of time with a slow stop and then to Esteban who was released into Lewis's path as they left the pits. The next 44 laps were very frustrating as he was stuck in a DRS train and it was impossible to get through. We know where we are on performance right now and we know where we need to get to. However, there are a couple of major issues with the car that if we can fix, we can find a lot of that gap quite quickly but time is getting critical now and we need to move forward in the next two races if we are to keep the leaders within any kind of reach this year".
Bottas had a good race: he picked off Magnussen and looked very strong. Then he managed to close the gap to Russell ahead and ended fractions behind the Mercedes:
"It was a fun race for me today! It’s always good to get points, we had a strong race in a car that felt really good. I am happy with how everything went, even though we lost a bit of time in the pit-stop, but we bring home ten points today so we’ll take it. I had a bit of a scare at the beginning of the race, when I couldn’t avoid Ricciardo when he tangled with Sainz, but luckily we didn’t have any damage. The car had good pace, especially once we went on the mediums, and only at the very end, when I caught George [Russell] I had some graining on my rear right that cost me performance. The team is working really well, there’s a good atmosphere and it’s nice to see the upgrades we brought to the track worked. There’s still a lot of work to do and many races ahead of us, so we can still improve and have some fun weekends".
Zhou started from the pit lane, but showed good skills to make his way up to fifteenth position:
"Not the result I wanted today, but there are still a lot of positives from me to take out of this weekend: not just the performance I showed over the three days, but also how I got up to speed quickly in my first Sprint race. The weekend started better than expected and I had a good qualifying, but yesterday really compromised our final result. It was always going to be hard to make it into the top ten from the pit lane, especially as today it was quite difficult to pass, and once I got past the Williams, the gap to the cars ahead was too big. The rest of my race was quite uneventful, but I can still look at the things I learned in difficult conditions and make sure I get back stronger in the next races".
Frédéric Vasseur defines this weekend as strong and is very happy to go home with 12 points. The team delivered upgrades that worked well and managed to repair the damages of Friday and Saturday:
"It has been a strong weekend from the team and to bring home 12 points between yesterday and today is a deserved reward. We delivered upgrades that worked well, a brilliant job by the team at home, and the crew were incredible both on Friday and Saturday night, with two rebuild jobs they undertook with strong spirit. Our race today was positive: Valtteri had really good pace and was able to fight for P4 until the final lap; Zhou always had a difficult job on his hands after yesterday’s crash, but did well to recover from a pitlane start to finish 15th with some good overtakes on the way. There are so many positives we can take away from this weekend, not just in terms of the result but also in the way we went about our business, and we can definitely aspire to do even better in the next few races".
Sainz did not have a good start, finding himself side by side with Ricciardo. First the McLaren was ahead, but then, running wide in the slippery conditions, it tipped the Ferrari into a spin and took Sainz in the gravel in a racing incident:
"This was an unlucky day. I braked well into turn 1, leaving enough space to my left, but unfortunately Daniel (Ricciardo) lost control of his car a bit and hit me from behind, throwing me into a spin and into the gravel. It’s a big shame because we were up for a good race, but there is nothing else I could have done differently at that point to avoid it. It’s tough to take, as today I wanted to have a good race in front of our fans. For the last two races things haven’t gone our way at all, but I’m still confident we can turn it around. There are many races ahead of us and you can be sure we will keep pushing. On to Miami".
Leclerc lost out to Perez at the start. Pushing the Red Bull all the race, at some point, the Monegasque took too much kerb and spun into the barriers. Because of this, the extra stop needed for a new front wing dropped him to ninth, and he managed to recover a few places:
"It was a very tricky race. Third was the best result we could have secured today, as our competitors were very strong. I struggled on the Soft tyres but when I saw an opportunity to overtake Perez for second, I went for it, pushing a bit too much, when I should have stayed put to secure those points. We will analyse all the data and come back stronger".
Mattia Binotto expresses disappoint, because they strongly believed to gain bettere results in Italy. The drivers did not make good starts and some issues were also due to the pit stops. Team will continue to extract all the potential out of the cars in view of the next stop in Miami:
"Of course we are disappointed as we wanted a better result than this in front of all our fans. It was a difficult race. Our drivers did not get perfect starts, possibly being on the worse side of the track. Charles’ first pit stop was not the best either, which meant he was back out on track without the gap that might have allowed him to fend off Perez and then he made a mistake trying to overtake him. Carlos was very unlucky at the start and for the second time in a row, he was unable to finish the race. It’s a real shame, not just because of the points lost, but also because he’s completed very few kilometres in the last few Grands Prix. Nevertheless, we will not lose heart and we will continue to work calmly. We wanted to give the fans something to cheer about, as they packed out the grandstands and the fields with a sea of red to support us here at Imola. Naturally, we are disappointed not to have managed that, but there will be other races and opportunities to put a smile on their faces. Now we look forward to Miami and a new track, which makes it an even more compelling prospect. We will continue to work hard to extract all the potential out of the F1-75 and to optimise the updates that we will be introducing in the coming races".
Tsunoda looked to have pace to burn in both the wet and the dry during the race. He managed to pass Stroll and then Magnussen and Vettel on his way to seventh:
"I’m super happy with today, especially to score points at our home track. There are a lot of people from the factory watching here in the grandstands today, every lap I could see the AlphaTauri flags being waved and it gave me a great boost, so it feels like a big thank you to everyone that works so hard in the team. The pace of the car has been really good today, I didn’t expect it to be quite that strong heading into the race, but we’ve made progress through the week and I’m pleased with the performance we showed this afternoon".
Gasly was behind his team mate and could not make progress, although he was good in defence, keeping a seven-time world champion behind for most of the race:
"It was a frustrating race, we were all stuck in a DRS train and with the top speed we had we weren’t able to do much. We’ve had really great performances in Quali up until this weekend, where sadly we didn’t perform well, which meant we were on the back foot from Friday. We need to go away and work out how to get back to a stronger Qualifying performance for the next race. I’m really excited for Miami, the track looks really good and I’m looking forward to race there".
Team Principal Franz Tost admits that the race was exciting, and is also happy for the presence of the fans and of many employees of Scuderia AlphaTauri, who enjoyed the race from the grandstands:
"It was a very exciting race today. I would like to congratulate Oracle Red Bull Racing for their well-deserved one-two. Max and Checo controlled the pace for the entire race, they did a really fantastic job. As for us, we also had a successful race. Yuki started in 12th position and after the first lap was already up to 10th. He drove a really strong race, overtaking many cars, to finish in seventh place. Yuki has been competitive immediately, from Friday onwards, so I think he now has a good basis for the upcoming races. Pierre on the other hand struggled a little bit this weekend and, in the race, he was unable to pass the cars ahead of him, to finish the race in 12th. We now have to analyse everything and find out what we can do to improve our performance for Miami. I think the new upgrades we introduced here this weekend worked well, and we now need to fine tune the car to have both drivers steadily in the points. Being our home race, many employees of Scuderia AlphaTauri were able to enjoy the race from the grandstands today, so it was great for them to be able to enjoy Yuki’s exciting performance here in Imola. I want to say a big thank you to everyone in the team, both in Faenza and Bicester, who has contributed to today’s success".
Aston Martin looked stronger in the wet than the dry, and both drivers fought for positions all the way through. Stroll is happy of the performace in Imola:
"It has been a positive weekend for the team and it is great to see both cars in the points. It was a well-earned point for us today because there was intense pressure throughout the race, not to mention the changeable weather conditions. At the beginning of the race, we performed strongly. Everyone was battling overheating tyres and a drying track, but we kept [Lewis] Hamilton behind and pressured [Yuki] Tsunoda ahead. Once we switched to the Medium tyre, we continued to show good pace and pulled away from the train of cars behind us. I am happy that we performed better this weekend and made the most of the opportunities that came our way. Qualifying and the race were in cooler and wet conditions, which may have suited us. We will enjoy today but will continue to keep pushing for more in the coming races".
Vettel lost out to Leclerc but came home eighth with Stroll gaining the last point to open up their championship now:
"The team did really well today and we maximised everything to finish P8. It is an important result for the team because they have worked so hard in a challenging season so far. It is clear that we benefitted from the cooler and damp conditions on Friday and Sunday, but we still needed to capitalise on the opportunities that came our way. We also achieved that through good strategy, making our pit-stop for dry tyres at the right moment. We may not have had the pure pace in this race, but we managed the tyres well and we got both cars into the points. It is nice to get off the mark and get points in the bag and now we are looking forward to Miami".
Team Principal Mike Krack talks about this eventful and exciting Grand Prix, in which only Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin managed to bring both cars home in the points:
"Both Sebastian and Lance drove faultlessly in today’s tricky wet-to-dry race. In wet conditions, Sebastian vaulted into ninth on lap one, then comfortably raced inside the top 10 for the whole race. As the track dried, he was one of the very first drivers to roll the dice and switch from Intermediates to the Medium tyre. The team and he judged that stop perfectly and Sebastian then ran smoothly in P7 until the closing laps, when he dropped to eighth. Equally, Lance didn’t put a foot wrong this afternoon. He too made a strong start, made up positions on the opening lap, and enjoyed a fantastic, spirited tussle with [Yuki] Tsunoda. After his stop, he settled down in 10th place, withstood race-long pressure from a train of cars behind him and scored his first point of the season. This was an eventful and exciting Grand Prix – and only ourselves and Red Bull Racing managed to bring both cars home in the points today. We know we still have a long way to go, but this afternoon’s result is a great boost for the whole team – both here in Imola and back at the factory".
Schumacher tangled with Alonso off the line and moved down to seventeenth position. From this moment his afternoon was harder: he cut across the grass late on and spun when returned to the track:
"Unfortunately, I lost our position right at the beginning and then had to recover from there. It was quite difficult, the Williams was very quick in the straights, so no chance for me there to get by. We were hoping we had more pace. It was quite unfortunate, but we live and we learn, we try to look ahead and do it better next time".
Magnussen did his best, making up places at the start. The drying track did not suit the car, but he still managed to gain two points:
"We scored points again - both yesterday and today - so that’s a good weekend. When we qualified P4, hopes were very high at the beginning, but we’ve got to be realistic as well and getting away with points in both the sprint and the main race, that’s a decent weekend. At the beginning of the race, I was on intermediates and got up to P5 and the pace was pretty good. Then the track dried up and we were a bit late to come in for slicks, so we got undercut by a couple of people. We came out and fought for points - got two today, three points over the weekend - so it was pretty decent".
Guenther Steiner hoped to gain more but after three of the total four races ended with points, is wishful for the future:
"We would have wished to have got a little bit more today but after four races, and three with points, we took something home and I think there is more to come. It wasn’t an ideal race for us with Mick spinning on the first lap, which put him to the back, and with the field like it is now recovering is almost impossible. Kevin was fighting hard, was going well on the inters and then on the dry tires - we were just not fast enough for the others. We scored three points over the weekend - from the Sprint yesterday and the grand prix today, so we need to keep on working and get ourselves in the position to be the at the other end of the midfield, not at the back".
Albon benefited from his pit done one lap earlier than his team mate, moving up a lot of places. But then he was stuck in a train of cars and although he came home eleventh:
"I’m really happy with the result today. We maximised the opportunities and overtook some cars on track with the pace we had. We had a new rear wing configuration for the weekend which really helped us hold position, and was particularly important in the second half of the race when battling with Gasly. It’s a shame that we missed out on points by one place, but we are taking opportunities, doing things differently and showing that we can battle higher up despite not having the fastest car. I was hoping DRS would be enabled a little earlier; we had six or seven laps where we were faster than the cars ahead and, with our downforce levels, we could have got past straightaway if we’d had DRS. By the time it was enabled I was wishing it hadn’t been! Overall, another weekend with plenty of positives for the team to take onwards to Miami".
Latifi had a quiet race, characterized by the fight with Zhou:
"It was definitely a very tricky race and I think everyone expected that when we saw the rain coming down ahead of going to the grid. It was very similar conditions to the start of the race here last year so I’m pleased we managed to get to the end of the Grand Prix this year! It was important for me to get that experience and continue to build my confidence in the car, as I still feel that it’s not quite where it needs to be yet. I think we made some steps doing that though which is positive, and our pace at the end on the medium tyre was relatively strong".
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, says that the team took the opportunities well and is happy with the result:
"Today’s mixed conditions made for some difficult decisions, but we took our opportunities well and can be pleased with the result. Alex drove really well, spending his entire stint on the Medium tyres both in the dirty air from Ocon and with Gasly constantly applying pressure behind. It’s a shame we couldn’t get a few more places when we first switched to the Medium tyre as the car was working really well at that point. However, it was a good recovery from a difficult weekend. Nicholas showed some excellent pace on the Medium compound and drove a strong and well controlled race".
Alonso had a contact with Schumacher at the start, which damaged his bodywork. After the Safety Car, when he started to run faster, a large lump of his sidepod ripped off and the team immediately retired his car:
"It was another unfortunate race for us this season. We made a decent start and moved up to eighth but there was a lot of damage on the right side of my floor and on the sidepod, so we had no choice but to retire. It’s unlucky as a small brush with Mick [Schumacher], which wasn’t intentional, destroyed our car and race. After Australia I feel that I could have scored 20 or 30 points in the championship, and I have only two. It’s unlucky! It’s a long season and there are plenty of points still to score".
Ocon started quite from the back, and then was released into Hamilton’s path in the pit lane, quite making contact with him. He was given a five-second time penalty and that dropped him three places at the flag:
"It was a frustrating race for us in the end where we’ve not scored any points. For me, it’s been a tricky one since the beginning and the Qualifying result compromised the rest of my weekend so if you think about it, where we ended up today before the penalty is not too bad. We lacked a bit of race pace and in the end we were not quick enough to get into the points even without the five second penalty. It’s a really tight pit-lane but we’ll be looking at exactly what happened in the debrief tonight to see if it could’ve been avoided. We’ll learn and move on from this one, and I’m already looking forward to Miami".
CEO Alpine Laurent Rossi says that the weekend was disappointing for the team and the race is the first in which the team did not score points:
"Plain and simple, this weekend was a disappointing one for the team and it’s the first race of the season where we leave without scoring points. We must make sure this does not happen again this year as we have much stronger potential than that. As a team there are many areas we must improve, and we must also eradicate errors quickly if we are to achieve our ambitious goals. While we feel frustrated by today’s result, we will count on it as additional motivation to not have this feeling again during the year. I’m confident in the team to keep working hard and we absolutely must bounce back next time in Miami".
Motorsport Director Mario Isola describes the race strategies:
"At the start of the race the intermediates worked well over a reasonably long stint, as was expected. I was a little bit surprised though that everyone chose the medium rather than the soft once the track had dried, in the cool and still damp conditions, but they were obviously thinking about going all the way to the end; and that’s exactly what many of the drivers did. Ferrari came up with an interesting strategy, which was then copied by Red Bull, to go for the fastest lap with the soft tyre at the end. The medium showed impressive adaptability over long runs, because the rain on Friday meant that the teams just had an hour on Saturday morning to understand it, with a maximum run of only around 20 laps possible. Despite that limited information, we saw long runs of 40 laps with no issues. Well done to Red Bull, but also to the fantastic home crowd here at Imola, which always shows such passionate support".
Next stop will be the Miami Grand Prix, which will take place on May 6-8, 2022. This new era of Formula 1 takes to a new circuit, with Max Verstappen having scored a valuable victory and having now moved up to the second position in the drivers' standings behind Leclerc.