"Today it worked out for us" - Max Verstappen wins 2022 F1 Imola GP Sprint, but warns 'tomorrow might be a bit different'

F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna - Sprint - Max Verstappen wins the sprint race in Imola
F1 Grand Prix of Emilia Romagna - Sprint - Max Verstappen wins the sprint race in Imola

Max Verstappen pipped Charles Leclerc to win the 2022 F1 Imola GP sprint race. The Dutchman will start Sunday's main race in P1, having now scored an additional eight points.

Verstappen got off to a poor start, with Leclerc getting past the reigning world champion heading into the first corner. The Monegasque driver seemed to have a natural pace advantage over the Red Bull driver, managing to maintain his lead at the end of the safety car restart. Leclerc's pace advantage, however, wore off towards the end of the 21-lap race as his front-left tire started graining, giving Max Verstappen a chance to get back into DRS striking range. The Dutchman pulled off the move with less than two laps to go, showing his incredible overtaking prowess.

The Red Bull driver said after the sprint race:

“The start was very bad. I don’t know exactly what happened or why it was so bad - too much wheelspin. After that I had to stay calm and initially it looked like Charles was having a bit more pace but then he ran out of tires and we could close the gap and went for the move into turn 2. I don’t know, maybe tomorrow it will be a bit different but for sure today it worked out for us on this compound.”

Max Verstappen claims his rivalry with Charles Leclerc 'feels natural'

Max Verstappen revealed that his battle with Charles Leclerc feels natural since the duo faced each other earlier in go-karts. The reigning champion claims he has had some nice duels with the Ferrari driver, which he has enjoyed. The most recent of which was at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where the Monegasque and Dutchman battled hard towards the end of the race.

Verstappen told La Gazetta dello Sport:

“Every driver is different, in the way they attack or defend. That’s why you always have to go into the fight in a unique way. It feels natural to compete against drivers that I have competed against in the past in karts and have now come to F1. In particular Charles [Leclerc]; it’s nice to see that we are two young guys competing for victories – we’ve fought some nice duels so far. I’m [also] happy that my friend [Carlos] Sainz is now driving a competitive Ferrari, after we made our debut together in 2015.”

As it stands, Charles Leclerc still holds a considerable lead over Max Verstappen in the drivers' standings, with the Dutchman having suffered two DNFs in three races. With the world champion showing great form in Imola, only Sunday's race will tell whether he can close the points gap to his long-time rival.

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Edited by Anurag C
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