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F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Red Bull euphoric after Verstappen takes victory in the Sprint: Perez charges to third from seventh

Red Bull Racing silenced the Tifosi today after Max Verstappen overcame a sluggish start and a hard-charging Charles Leclerc to take victory in the first Sprint race of the season, with Sergio Perez recovering well from a difficult Qualifying to take third.

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F1 | Emilia Romagna GP | Red Bull euphoric after Verstappen takes victory in the Sprint: Perez charges to third from seventh
Fuente imagen: @redbullracing

Red Bull Racing will be hoping to gain more ground on Ferrari in tomorrow's Emilia Romanga Grand Prix after Max Verstappen retained his pole position with victory in today’s Sprint race after a nail-biting late-race battle with Charles Leclerc.

Formula 1’s first Sprint of the 2022 season got off to a bad start for Verstappen as he bogged down on the line giving Leclerc the lead on the run-up to Tamburello before the safety car was brought out after Guanyu Zhou and Pierre Gasly made contact at the Piratella.

Leclerc then led the field at the restart on Lap 5, and the pair quickly stretched out a gap over third-place man Lando Norris to over six seconds.

But as Leclerc’s tyres began to degrade, Verstappen reeled the championship leader in and with two laps left to go, he finally pounced, snatching the race lead into Tamburello, which he didn’t relinquish, wrapping up pole and eight World championship points.

In his post-race interview, Verstappen explained that he was merely playing a waiting game as he tried to get as close as possible with the DRS before trying to stay with the Monegasque through the rest of the circuit.

​"Charles was definitely struggling more with the graining; then, of course, I could close up and use the DRS to get by. But I think it was more just of a bit of a waiting game because every lap it seemed like the gap or the difference between the two cars was getting bigger in terms of lap times."

"Of course, with these cars, it is better to follow. But it's still very hard to pass. You still need to use the tyres and especially with the deg we had on the soft, getting in that DRS window."

Regarding his start, Verstappen remained perplexed as to why he got such a poor launch from the line as he looks to avoid a repeat in tomorrow’s race.

"My start was just terrible, and I didn’t have gear sync for whatever reason, so yes, I need to see exactly what went wrong. When I let the clutch go, (there was) just a lot of wheelspin and no traction, so my start was very, very poor, and then it was 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 close the gap again."

On the other side of the Red Bull garage, Perez was one of the big gainers from the Sprint as the Mexican muscled his way past Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo to move into fifth from seventh at the start, with the Mexican moving up to fourth after dispatching Kevin Magnussen on Lap 8.

That became third three laps later as he breezed past McLaren’s Lando Norris on the run down to Tamburello, and with Carlos Sainz running out of laps to close the gap, Perez came home a distant third and picking up six more championship points.

​​"I am happy with the result of the sprint and looking forward to tomorrow starting from P3. We managed to minimise the damage from quali, so I am happy with that; it was a nice save, and it was all we needed for today; anything more would have been a bonus. I got a really strong start, and after that, I was just progressing through the field; it got a bit messy with Daniel when we touched, but overall it was a nice sprint for me, and we got some good overtaking done."

"We certainly have good pace, and I am looking to produce another solid weekend for the Team; hopefully, we can come out on top against the Ferraris. We have seen in Melbourne, and we have seen here already, that it can change fairly quickly, so either team can turn things around, and we certainly expect the Ferraris to be strong. I got really close to Charles today near the end, but it was just a sprint so let’s (see) what we can do over race distance."

Christian Horner was thrilled with the performance of his two drivers as Red Bull now moves into second place in the constructors' championship as a result of their 1-3 in the Sprint.

"It was a great performance today by both drivers. All credit to Max; he kept his head, stayed patient and kept his position on the tail of Charles; we could see the Ferrari’s front tyre was starting to go, and when his opportunity to take back the lead came, he took it. Checo drove well today and made great progress up the grid to take some valuable points and put himself in a better starting place on the grid for tomorrow’s race."

"Max didn’t have the best start, but we’ve got the data from today, so we’ll need to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes tomorrow. But the good thing is we’ve now got two cars up at the front of the grid, and we’ll hope to capitalise on that."

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