The wet and tricky weather conditions of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix created a dramatic and exciting race. However, the Scuderia endured heartbreak on home soil on the scenic Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari track with both drivers missing out on podium finishes.
Charles Leclerc delivered a solid performance prior to the race with a strong P2 sprint race result while Carlos Sainz experienced a hectic drive over the weekend that led up to his P4 position off the starting grid.
Sainz encountered bad luck on the opening lap of the race after McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo made contact with the Ferrari driver’s car sending him off into the gravel. Unfortunately, the Spaniard could not recover his F1-75 to the track, and his race ended prematurely.
After the race, Sainz reflected on the incident with Ricciardo, expressing his unhappiness and disappointment for the tifosi who witnessed the tragic DNF at their home track.
“This was an unlucky day. I braked well into turn 1, leaving enough space to my left, but unfortunately Daniel (Ricciardo) lost control of his car a bit and hit me from behind, throwing me into a spin and into the gravel. It’s a big shame because we were up for a good race, but there is nothing else I could have done differently at that point to avoid it,” Sainz said.
“But unfortunately, I think I left plenty of space for Daniel on the inside but he decided to get on the kerb and understeer into me and that was it for my race. Very unlucky – nothing I could do differently there, but it is what it is."
Despite, his race-ending incident with Ricciardo, Sainz commented on how losing a position under the challenging track and weather conditions was crucial fur the longevity of the race.
“It was a difficult start as you saw,” said Sainz, “but there were still 63 laps left, and even if you lose a position to a McLaren like Lando [Norris] or whatever, it’s still a long race to go, especially in these conditions.
“…I’m not happy, and it’s tough to go through it, especially in a home race like this with all the tifosi, getting the support from them, wanting to do a good race for them. Yes, as I said, the start wasn’t great; we will analyse why but it was still a long race ahead and for some reason, I was the unlucky guy that for someone’s mistake, I had to pay. It’s how it is.”
Ending on a positive, Sainz believes there is plenty of time left in the season to turn things around for the fight for the championship.
“It’s tough to take, as today I wanted to have a good race in front of our fans. For the last two races things haven’t gone our way at all, but I’m still confident we can turn it around. There are many races ahead of us and you can be sure we will keep pushing. On to Miami,” Sainz stated.
After delivering consistent performances in all practice sessions, qualifying, and for the Sprint Race, Leclerc made a costly mistake on lap 54 of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that diminished his chance of securing a podium. While chasing Sergio Perez on the last stint of the race, the Monégasque driver spun at the Variante Alta chicane and then experienced front wing damage. After another pit stop was needed to change the front wing, Leclerc rejoined the race in the ninth position and carved his way up to P4.
“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. It’s only seven points today but it could be more the next time,” added Leclerc. “So I need to be careful for that.”
Although Ferrari has shown that their F1-75 has the fastest race pace so far this season, Leclerc admitted that P3 was the best he could accomplish for the race.
“It was a very tricky race. Third was the best result we could have secured today, as our competitors were very strong” Leclerc said.
“I struggled on the Soft tyres but when I saw an opportunity to overtake Perez for second, I went for it, pushing a bit too much, when I should have stayed put to secure those points. We will analyse all the data and come back stronger.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal & Managing Director at Ferrari, acknowledged the errors made on track while sharing Sainz’s sentiment over the disappointment felt for not securing a better result for the fans.
“Of course we are disappointed as we wanted a better result than this in front of all our fans. It was a difficult race. Our drivers did not get perfect starts, possibly being on the worse side of the track,” Binotto said.
“Charles’ first pit stop was not the best either, which meant he was back out on track without the gap that might have allowed him to fend off Perez and then he made a mistake trying to overtake him.”
“Carlos was very unlucky at the start and for the second time in a row, he was unable to finish the race. It’s a real shame, not just because of the points lost, but also because he’s completed very few kilometres in the last few Grands Prix. Nevertheless, we will not lose heart and we will continue to work calmly.
“We wanted to give the fans something to cheer about, as they packed out the grandstands and the fields with a sea of red to support us here at Imola.”
Unphased by the tough race at Imola, Binotto remained optimistic and says that the team looks forward to the next race in Miami.
“Naturally, we are disappointed not to have managed that, but there will be other races and opportunities to put a smile on their faces.”
“Now we look forward to Miami and a new track, which makes it an even more compelling prospect. We will continue to work hard to extract all the potential out of the F1-75 and to optimise the updates that we will be introducing in the coming races.”
Regardless of the poor results at Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Leclerc leads the driver’s championship with 86 points over title defender Max Versatpeen who currently has 59 points. However, after Red Bull’s 1-2 win at Imola, the gap in the constructors’ battle has shrunk for the Milton Keynes team with 113 points to Ferrari’s 124.
I gave it all but went over the limit at the end. Sorry to the team and to all the tifosi that supports us. Instead of a P3, it ended up in a P6. We’ll come back stronger.— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) April 24, 2022