RACE DEBRIEF

    Charles Leclerc may not have had the pace to challenge Max Verstappen for victory in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – but a costly error 10 laps from the race end saw the Monegasque spin out of P3, as he ultimately came home in a despondent sixth place in front of the loyal tifosi.

    From P2 on the grid, Leclerc made a slow getaway as the five lights went out, conceding positions to Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Lando Norris as Verstappen streaked away at the front – Leclerc passing Norris for P3 eight laps later.

    READ MORE: Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2 as Ferrari falter in action-packed Imola race

    But a late dice roll from Ferrari saw the Monegasque driver change onto soft tyres. And he was chasing down Perez for P2 on Lap 53 when he clouted the kerb at the Variante Alta, spinning his Ferrari into the barriers and forcing another pit stop for a nose change – and a collective groan from the sea of Ferrari fans.

    And after eventually recovering from P9 to P6, Leclerc opened up about the outcome of the race.

    “It is a big shame,” he said. “The spin should not have happened today. I mean, P3 was the best I could do, we didn’t have the pace for much more and I was too greedy and I paid the price for it and lost seven potential points compared to my third place I was before.

    “It is a shame, it’s seven points that are valuable at the end of the championship. For sure, this shouldn’t happen again.”

    2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: P6 Leclerc crosses line regretting lost places

    Leclerc’s spin came after Ferrari had already endured a demoralising start to the race, when Carlos Sainz was spun into the Tamburello gravel on Lap 1 by McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo – while the Scuderia appeared to lack the outright pace of Red Bull around Imola on Sunday, as Verstappen secured victory to go with his pole position and Sprint win.

    READ MORE: ‘I paid for Ricciardo’s mistake’ says Sainz, after ending second straight race in gravel trap

    And asked if he felt Red Bull had made a step in performance this weekend, Leclerc replied: “It’s impossible to know… Only time will tell how much of a step they did but for sure they seem to be more competitive than the first three races, or similar to Jeddah.

    “We’ve had the upper hand in Bahrain and Australia, and they’ve had the upper hand in this weekend and in Jeddah. It is very, very close, and I think it will be that way for the rest of the season and that is why every small mistake… it’s a big mistake but actually the consequence considering the mistake could have been much bigger.

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    Leclerc could only claim P6, his worst finish of the season

    “It’s only seven points today but it could be more the next time,” added Leclerc. “So I need to be careful for that.”

    Despite the error, Leclerc still heads the drivers’ standings, but Verstappen’s second victory of the year has moved him to P2 – Leclerc’s advantage standing at 27 points.

    2022

    Drivers' standings post-Imola

    POSITION POINTS
    1 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 86
    2 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 59
    3 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 54
    4 George Russell Mercedes 49
    5 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 38
    6 Lando Norris McLaren 35
    7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 28
    8 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 24
    9 Esteban Ocon Alpine 20
    10 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 Team 15