Follow all the latest updates from practice at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at a rainy Imola as the teams prepare for qualifying later on Friday afternoon.
Several teams are trying to get to grips with issues which have plagued them in the opening rounds and correct them this weekend, although the wet weather won’t make life easy. Red Bull have seen reigning champion Max Verstappen fail to finish twice in the first three races of the season, though the potential they retain was evident when he won the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in round two. Either side of that triumph, it was Charles Leclerc who was the victor, while his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz has signed a new contract with the team.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are still expecting to “challenge for wins” across the course of the season despite thier current lack of pace, though Toto Wolff has insisted it will “take time” for the team to fix the problems they have with porpoising. and controlling the air flow under the new car.
Hamilton is staying positive about getting in the mix, but Mercedes won’t be making any big changes to their car for the Emilia Romagna GP due to fewer practice sessions. That’s because the first sprint race of the campaign is on Saturday, pushing qualifying forward to Friday afternoon and the race being in its usual Sunday slot.
Follow all the latest updates from Friday practice at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix below:
Lewis Hamilton expected to ‘challenge for wins’ after Mercedes’ ‘big updates’
The seven-time world champion secured a podium finish in the first race of the season in Bahrain, but has struggled to find any pace in the car as he came tenth in Saudi Arabia and fourth in Australia.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has already confirmed that, with a lack of practice sessions at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend due to the return of the sprint race, they are not preparing to add many significant updates to the car.
But Gene believes the Silver Arrows will have better improvements in place for the following race in Barcelona and feels that then they will be able to compete for wins.
speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “I can see it, but I can’t see it in the short term. Unless it’s a setup issue. If it’s a setup issue they could find it at some point very quickly.”
Michael Jones22 April 2022 11:30
What is an F1 sprint race and how does qualifying work?
Formula One’s sprint format returns for a second season at this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
Here, we at the key questions surrounding the event.
The shortened race takes place on Saturday afternoon and replaces traditional qualifying. The finishing order of the Sprint determines the grid for Sunday’s main event, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
The Sprint is one third distance from a traditional Grand Prix, or 62 miles. At Imola, that equates to 21 laps with the race set to take around 30 minutes.
How is the grid determined for the Sprint?
Qualifying will be brought forward from Saturday to Friday, replacing second practice. It will have a later start time of 5pm local (4pm UK) in a bid to generate a bigger television audience. The results of qualifying determine the starting grid positions for the Sprint on Saturday. For example the fastest driver in Friday’s qualifying will be on pole for Saturday’s Sprint.
Michael Jones22 April 2022 11:18
Current driver and constructor standings
Here’s a reminder of how the standings look ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Charles Leclec leads the way in the driver’s championship after three podium finishes including two victories which also sees Ferrari in a commanding position in the team standings.
Michael Jones22 April 2022 11:10
Leclerc and Verstappen ‘hated’ each other in karting days
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says he and Max Verstappen ‘hated’ each other during their younger days when they raced karts which built up an intense rivalry between the two drivers.
That battle is back in the spotlight this season as Leclerc and Verstappen have come head-to-head in all three races of the 2022 season so far with the Ferrari driver winning two and Verstappen one. It looks set to be another close race for the world championship title but only if Verstappen’s Red Bull team fix his reliability issues.
Leclerc already has a significant lead in the championship – he is 34 points ahead of Mercedes driver George Russell, who is second in the championship, and 46 ahead of Verstappen, who has failed to finish two of the three races.
Leclerc said: “It is going to be very close. It has always been very close.
“In karting, it was either me or him and that’s why we hated each other at one point because very often it didn’t end in the best way possible.
“In which parts we are stronger or not [as drivers], I don’t know, we just have two very different styles of driving. In some days one will win, in some the other will. But I like it.”
The reigning world champion insisted he has not changed his approach this season saying: “I race exactly like I always race because that is how I am,
“Everyone is different in their defense and their attack, and so far Charles and I race very well together because we know where we want to place the car and how much room we need to leave for each other. That works out really well for both of us.
“Charles is aggressive, too, and you can clearly see that. We have nice battles, but we don’t touch.”
Michael Jones22 April 2022 11:00
Wet weather at Imola
The rain is coming down in Italy ahead of the first practice session on the Imola Circuit this afternoon. The drivers are due on track at 12:30pm UK time for practice before qualifying begins around 4pm later today.
Michael Jones22 April 2022 10:55
Sainz ‘lacked calmness to react properly’ to Australian GP issues
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz says he “lacked calmness to react properly” to the various issues that struck him during the F1 Australian Grand Prix, which he called a “character-building weekend”.
Sainz looked strong in practice at Albert Park topping the leaderboard in the first practice session and in the early parts of qualifying but things began to go wrong in Q3.
His Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc had just moved to the top of the times in the top 10 shootout when the session was halted due to Fernando Alonso’s crash, seconds before Sainz was able to cross the line and set his own banker time. When the session summarized an ignition problem on Sainz’s car meant he left the pits too late for a warm-up lap which led to a wild slide on the final lap of qualifying and his eventual ninth-place grid spot.
Things got worse on race day. Ferrari had to switch Sainz’s steering wheel and the replacement was not set with the correct torque map which meant he dropped five places in the first lap of the race. Doing his best to recover ground Sainz then had to retire after going off the track in a battle with Hass’ Mick Schumacher.
“One of my strengths as a driver is to stay calm in these sort of situations,” he said about the race in Melbourne. “This time, I lacked this calmness to react properly to the inconvenience that arrived to me at the time.
“And it wasn’t a great weekend because a lot of things happened, a lot of external factors happened, but at the same time I didn’t have the best reaction to this.
“At some point it had to happen – I’ve had , I don’t know how many, points finishes. I don’t know how many consecutive races I’ve been finishing without major mistakes.
“At some point this mistake had to happen. And it happened, which I’m sure I will learn from – like I’ve done previously in my career and it just made me stronger. So, a character-building weekend for sure.”
Michael Jones22 April 2022 10:49
When are the F1 sprint races in 2022?
Formula 1’s introduction of the sprint races were a new innovation brought in at the start of the 2021 season.
A handful of races were given the go-ahead so that qualifying would take place on the Friday rather than the Saturday.
The sprint race would then replace qualifying on the Saturday, before the race took place as usual on the Sunday.
Here is all you need to know about the sprint races for 2022.
Michael Jones22 April 2022 10:41
When is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix? Race schedule, start times and how to watch
So far the star has won two of the opening three races and is currently 34 points ahead of second place George Russell. Defending champion Max Verstappen will bid to get his season back on track after having to retire from two races. He did bag a win in Saudi Arabia but the disappointing ends in Bahrain and Australia sees him in fifth.
And though Leclerc holds a commanding lead, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says they aren’t ready to give team orders to Carlos Sainz to play second fiddle.
“It’s only three races which have been done now,’ the Ferrari chief told AutoSport. “There are still 20 races left, hopefully 19 or 20. So the championship is still very long.
“Our drivers [Leclerc and Sainz] are free to fight, and I am really looking forward and enjoying that they are battling for a good place, and first place, if possible.”
Michael Jones22 April 2022 10:30
George Russell lifts lid on working relationship with Mercedes ‘captain’ Lewis Hamilton
George Russell maintains there will be “no hard feelings”, despite results, between himself and team-mate Lewis Hamilton due to the seven-time world champions status as “captain” of Mercedes.
In his first season racing for German manufacturers Mercedes, Russell sits nine points ahead of Hamilton in the Driver’s Championship after three races.
Russell, who spent three seasons with Williams, insists that his fellow Brits standing within the team leaves no doubt as to who is the leader, regardless of where the pair finish on race day.
“I think because we’re at just different stages of our career, there’s no hard feelings either way,” Russell told Sky Sports ahead of this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Italy.
“From my side, I’m 24 years old going up against the greatest of all time, if he were to finish ahead of me, obviously I don’t like it but I’m not going to cry and sulk about it.”
Michael Jones22 April 2022 10:19
Max Verstappen explains why Charles Leclerc rivalry feels ‘natural’
The Dutchman competed against Leclerc as teenagers in karting before their battles in Formula One. The pair famously locked horns back in 2019 when at the Austrian Grand Prix, Verstappen stole the Monegasque’s first victory on the final lap.
Verstappen and Leclerc enjoyed clean duels for victory at the first two rounds of the 2022 season, with the Ferrari man coming out on top in Bahrain and the Red Bull driver fighting back in Saudi Arabia.
Michael Jones22 April 2022 10:11