RACE DEBRIEF

    Red Bull’s Max Verstappen shot up to second in the standings with a towering showing at Imola. And while he may have made it look easy, the reigning champion said his win was anything but.

    Verstappen cut Charles Leclerc’s drivers’ championship lead to 27 points with P1 in the Sprint and then victory in the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. And after the pain of a second DNF of the season in Australia, the Dutchman said his Imola performance made up for that – but there were many challenges along the way to the chequered flag.

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

    “Melbourne wasn’t great for us and the start of the season in general wasn’t amazing so we needed a good weekend. I didn’t expect it to be like this but when you have a weekend at the end like this, that’s incredible: a one-two for the team but also maximum points scored.

    “Also the way we handled the race, we didn’t really make any mistakes and I think we made the right calls switching from the inters to the slicks, and from then onwards we just controlled the race. It of course seemed probably easy on the TV, but you have to be focused.”

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    Leclerc's late crash helped Red Bull cruise to a 1-2

    Asked about the biggest obstacle he faced on the way to his 16 second victory in Italy, the Driver of The Day replied: “Passing backmarkers. Some of them, they stayed of course on the dry line and I had to pass them on the wet patches. That wasn’t amazing, but it is what it is. You just have to deal with it but again, then it’s easy to just go off the track.

    “Of course we saw that yesterday in Sprint qualifying that we had good pace in the car and we could look after our tyres quite nicely. A very positive weekend.”

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

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    Perez launched another terrific defence before Leclerc spun out of contention

    Perez backed up his team mate with a one-two finish for Red Bull, the Mexican having batted away the perennial challenge of Charles Leclerc in the wet-dry contest until the Monegasque span out of contention.

    “Yes, it was really intense – the fight pretty much since halfway through the race, we were fighting and then it was all under control,” said Perez. “But then they started chasing us with the [late] stop. And then it was again a fight trying to warm up the tyres.

    HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from the race in Imola, as Verstappen dominates to lead Red Bull 1-2

    “The most important thing was not making mistakes because, with those conditions it was very tricky out there to get a one-two under these conditions. It is a great result for the team. We’ve been so unlucky – the start has been so difficult for us – so I’m very pleased everyone in my team is smiling today.”

    The one-two finish at Imola, Red Bull’s first since 2016, means that they are second in the standings – Ferrari only 11 points ahead heading to Miami.

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