It was a dry run all-through Saturday in F1 Emilia Romagna GP Sprint Race which made it an interesting short run to the chequered flag.
The Saturday in F1 Emilia Romagna GP was more of a dry run after the rain on Friday. The sprint race saw a good fight between Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, where the Monegasque pipped the Dutchman at the start.
But Verstappen came back on Leclerc towards the end and eventually passed him to win the sprint race after the Monegasque’s tyres gave away. Behind them, both their teammates fought back into a good position for Sunday’s F1 race.
Sergio Perez ended up third from sixth while Carlos Sainz was fourth from eighth on the grid. The duo managed to fight through in dry conditions to finish ahead of McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, who did well to score points too.
Verstappen: “Terrible when I let the clutch go, just a lot of wheel spin and no traction. So my start was very, very poor. I mean, Lando had a decent start so there’s no excuse. I mean my start was just terrible and yeah, I didn’t have gear sync for whatever reason. I need to see exactly what went wrong. And then of course after the Safety Car restart it seemed like initially Charles was very quick and he was actually pulling away like a tiny bit lap after lap. But then at one point the tyre deg came into play and it seemed like from that point on, I could actually then close the gap again. And yeah, of course at one point…
“It’s very tricky once you get around that one-second window to get super close. Of course with these cars it is better to follow but it’s still very hard to pass because you still need to use up your tyres and especially with the deg we had on the soft, like getting in that DRS window was hard. But then, yeah, once I got into it, I think on the second attempt, we had a good little battle into Turn 2. I think we were pretty much flat out in the beginning. It’s not many laps you have anyway in the race. But of course we knew that on these tyres it was going to be tough at the end of the race, like the last few laps, but yeah, it worked out for us. But clearly the we had a bit more pace at the end of the race, yeah.”
Leclerc: “I had a very good start, so yeah, we ran side-by-side through Turn 1 and I could focus on my own race from that moment onwards. I tried to push at the beginning to get a bit of a gap and for Max not being the DRS zone, because I knew that I will have been vulnerable if it was the case. But I paid the price a little bit later on in the race and had some graining and really struggled in the last two, three laps. So, it’s like this but it’s only the sprint race and we’ll learn from this to be better tomorrow. We need to fix the graining most of all. It felt like we damaged the tyres a bit more, especially the front right for some reason. So, we’ll focus on that for tomorrow’s race.”
Perez: “We had a really nice start. It got a bit messy into Turn 1 with Daniel, I think. I couldn’t avoid him, so we touched. Luckily, there was no damage for both of us. And yeah, then there was a Safety Car. And it felt quite short that the time, the race, you know? Because we lost, I think, three laps. And yeah, at the restart was just about getting as further up as possible. So, I think P3 is, it’s a great position for tomorrow. I think we looked after the tyre really well. I think that particularly, it’s a good step, especially given the deg we’ve been having – but it’s only a short race so we’ll see tomorrow if we made the right steps.”
Sainz: “I think I just did the maximum that I could do today with the way that the race played out I knew I had to get up to a top five and hopefully top four and today I did P4 and I’m in the mix for tomorrow. So a solid race and now ready to fight everyone. I’m glad I looked comfortable from the outside, in the inside it’s not comfortable yet. I’m still not as smooth as I would like to be, a mistake like yesterday proves that maybe I’m still not 100% happy with the car and understanding it fully. But I’m hustling out there, I’m trying my best to get it up to to my liking, to change my driving and mistakes are gonna come when you’re challenging yourself like that.”
Looking at the rest of the Top 10, McLaren managed to eke out good points as noted about with Ricciardo ending up behind his teammate. The Australian had more fighting race than Norris which included a contact against Perez and also Haas’ Kevin Magnussen.
The Dane’s medium tyre choice didn’t help in the Top 10 but he still managed to eke out the one point with Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas also scoring points, as Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel both suffered high on their soft tyres to lose out from points starting position.
Ricciardo: “It’s definitely like the ‘on paper’ result is really good. This morning is all about race prep and we obviously didn’t get it. I’ve done over 200 races so it’s not like I’m not prepared to race but knowing what tyre to start on, where to set things like the front wing and the switches in the car and all these little things, this is certainly valuable, especially in a Sprint race, where you don’t have a pit stop or anything. These are things that obviously compromise you. If we did the race again now, I would definitely change some things but with all that being said, you see ahead of us it’s Red Bull and Ferrari, so actually the result was good, I just think we will be a faster car tomorrow.
“I’m aware that Bottas missed this morning as well and he was right on my gearbox at the end of the race. Maybe they just guessed it and got it better but yeah, there is certainly a lot to learn. But I think we learned enough this afternoon to obviously let’s say remove any… I don’t want to say excuses, but hesitations heading into tomorrow. So yeah, we will see what happens.”
Magnussen: “Super-surprised to see everyone on the soft. We tried the soft in free practice and thought it would degrade too much, so when everyone else was on soft at the start I was a little nervous, but yeah, they obviously overtook me at the beginning of the race in the first part of the race, because they were faster, and then towards the end it kind of evened out. But overall the soft tyre was the right tyre for that race and we learned that.
“Anyway, we scored a point and we’re starting P8 for tomorrow and hopefully score some more points. We didn’t do a whole sprint race distance in practice on that tyre but we did like 13 laps and it took a step around there of degradation and I judged that it would continue. But looking at everyone else at lap 13 it was kind of the same, it took a little step but then stayed there and they had the same pace as me. So the soft tyre was the right tyre, I got that wrong, but we live to fight another day.”
Bottas: “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.”
Alonso: “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.”
The disappointment list saw both Mercedes drivers out of Top 10 and unable to gain much in the race, especially Lewis Hamilton. He was stuck in the DRS train and couldn’t move ahead, and will have a lot of work to do to get into the Top 10.
He had Vettel ahead of him towards the end with Lance Stroll behind, while the F1 sprint race saw an incident on the opening lap between AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou, which ended the latter’s race and now he is forced to start from pitlane due to the team working on his car under parc ferme.
Zhou: “It was quite a good fight together with two or three cars or the opening lap, then into Turn 9 I saw I think one of the Mercedes was defending to Pierre and then I had an opportunity on the outside to outbrake him. On breaking everything was complete. Then yeah, the next thing I got was a massive hit on exit, which is surprising, you know, I felt like the move was done before that. So we have to have a look what happened then. But yeah, quite disappointing the race end up like that, because I think, as a team, we had a good potential this weekend. I mean, to gain positions was possible. But you know, we finished lap one. So it’s no point talking about what’s possible, but at least it seems we have a quite strong car this weekend. And you know, the upgrades we bring as a team, it seems to be working in the right direction. So it’s always nice to have.”
Gasly: “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.”
Hamilton: “Well, I lost points… well I lost positions, so it wasn’t a rescue. Unable to do that today, unfortunately. The car has felt like it’s felt all year, not that great. We’re faced with this issue, there’s nothing I can do. All I’ve been doing is trying to do the best job I can: some weekends it goes well, some weekends it doesn’t. We’re obviously not fighting for the championship, we’re fighting to get into the top 10 at the moment.
Here’s how F1 Emilia Romagna GP Sprint Race panned out