After passing Charles Leclerc in the closing circuits, Max Verstappen won the sprint race and gained pole position for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

On the penultimate lap, Max Verstappen passed Formula 1 championship leader Charles Leclerc to win the first sprint race of the 2022 season, claiming pole position for Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

At the start, Red Bull’s Verstappen was beaten by Ferrari’s Leclerc, but he had greater speed in the closing stages of the 21-lap mini-race and put it to good use.

Verstappen’s start was not only bad enough for Leclerc to pass him almost immediately, but it was also bad enough for Norris to challenge for second, though Verstappen – who sarcastically blamed the bad start on “lovely gear sync” – did manage to stay ahead of the Brit by braking slightly later into Turn 1.

A Perez lunge down the inside of Turn 1 caused slight contact between him and Ricciardo, and then a small touch between the latter and Magnussen – allowing Perez to pass Ricciardo for sixth as they exited the round.

All of the cars involved avoided severe damage, but Guanyu Zhou’s Alfa Romeo rookie was thrown sideways by Pierre Gasly while attempting to pass him around the outside of Piratella later in the lap.

“Of course, you can’t stay there!” said Gasly over the radio, with Zhou out on the track after crashing into the wall and the Frenchman forced to pit.

After the safety car was removed after four circuits, Leclerc nailed the restart and immediately broke out of Verstappen’s DRS range, with the gap between the two eventually stabilising at slightly over a second.

With five laps to go, Verstappen – spurred on by his race engineer’s report of graining on Leclerc’s front right tyre – got back within a second of the Monegasque and began to apply consistent pressure, which culminated in a show-stopping pass around the outside of Tamburello at the start of the penultimate lap.

He went on to win by three seconds, earning eighth place points to Leclerc’s seven — the sprint points tally having been changed this season.

Behind them, Perez climbed to third place, dispatching first Magnussen and then Norris with DRS passes on the main straight, both done well ahead of the braking zone.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who started 10th and was ninth when the safety car came out, made quick work of his way through the field to round up the top four.

McLaren’s top six included Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, with Ricciardo passing Magnussen on the inside of Tamburello.

The Haas driver was one of only three drivers to use mediums rather than softs, and he was passed by Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas late in the race, settling for eighth place with a solitary point Bottas had previously fought by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

Both Mercedes drivers lost positions at the start and were caught in a DRS train led by Sebastian Vettel of Aston Martin.

Russell was able to pass Vettel and retake 11th place, but Hamilton was unable to do so and will start 14th.

2022 F1 EMILIA ROMAGNA GRAND PRIX – SPRINT QUALIFYING RESULTS

POSDRIVERNAT.TEAMTIME
1Max VerstappenNEDOracle Red Bull Racing21 Laps
2Charles LeclercMONScuderia Ferrari+ 2.975s
3Sergio PerezMEXOracle Bull Racing+ 4.721s
4Carlos SainzESPScuderia Ferrari+ 17.578s
5Lando NorrisGBRMcLaren F1 Team+ 24.561s
6Daniel RicciardoAUSMcLaren F1 Team+ 27.740s
7Valtteri BottasFINAlfa Romeo F1 Team Orlen+ 28.133s
8Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team+ 30.712s
9Fernando AlonsoESPBWT Alpine F1 Team+ 32.278s
10Mick SchumacherGERHaas F1 Team+ 33.773s
11George RussellGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team+ 36.284s
12Yuki TsunodaJPNScuderia AlphaTauri+ 38.289s
13Sebastian VettelGERAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team+ 40.177s
14Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team+ 41.459s
15Lance StrollCANAston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team+ 42.910s
16Esteban OconFRABWT Alpine F1 Team+ 43.517s
17Pierre GaslyFRAScuderia AlphaTauri+ 43.794s
18Alexander AlbonTHAWilliams Racing+ 48.871s
19Nicholas LatifiCANWilliams Racing+ 52.017s
 Guanyu ZhouCHNAlfa Romeo F1 Team OrlenDNF

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