Verstappen places top, Bottas 5th in Emilia-Romagna GP

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Verstappen places top, Bottas 5th in Emilia-Romagna GP

Red Bull's Max Verstappen closed the gap in the 2022 F1 title race with a dominant win in Sunday's F1 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, as championship leader Charles Leclerc only finished sixth after a mid-race spin.

Starting from pole position after having won Saturday's S race following a battle with Leclerc, Verstappen led every lap on Sunday and mastered the changing conditions as the Imola track dried following a pre-race rain shower.

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez took second to complete Red Bull's first 1-2 finish since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

But it was a disastrous day for Ferrari at the circuit closest to their Maranello home. Leclerc was lying third and pressuring Perez when he spun at the Variante Alta chicane on Lap 54 and damaged his front wing, forcing him to pit for repairs and dropping him down the order.

Ferrari's misery was compounded by Leclerc's teammate Carlos Sainz retiring on Lap 1 after being tagged by Daniel Ricciardo and ending up beached in the gravel trap.

After two costly retirements in the first three races saw him lose significant ground to Leclerc in the title race, Verstappen hailed his perfect weekend in Imola, which also saw him take the bonus point for fastest lap in Sunday's race.

"Yesterday and the day before, we were on it and it was looking like a strong weekend," Verstappen said.

"Today, you never know with the weather how competitive you're going to be, [but] as a team we did everything well and I think this 1-2 is well deserved."

Behind the Red Bulls, Lando Norris continued McLaren's renaissance in 2022 by finishing a strong third.

"Of course [it's a surprise]," the Briton said of taking the final place on the podium. "Amazing race, an amazing weekend. The team deserve it, from where we were in [the Bahrain Grand Prix] to now scoring a podium. Top job to the team."

"Everyone's putting a lot of time and effort into this. I also like these conditions, I always do quite well! A great weekend, the hard work all pays off."

Mercedes' George Russell took fourth, just holding off Valtteri Bottas who had another good race for Alfa Romeo.

Leclerc's error saw him wind up sixth, ahead of AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda. Sebastian Vettel took his and Aston Martin's first points of the season in eighth, ahead of Haas's Kevin Magnussen in ninth and Vettel's teammate Lance Stroll rounding out the top ten. Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu finished 15th after a low-key race.

Despite throwing valuable points away, Leclerc still leads the drivers' championship with 86 points, but Verstappen has vaulted up to the second place with 59 points, with Perez climbing to third on 54.

In the constructors' standings, Ferrari's lead is now 124 points, but Red Bull have taken a huge chunk out of the Scuderia's advantage and now have 113 points. Mercedes are third with 77 points.

The next round of the 2022 F1 season is the first-ever Miami Grand Prix on May 8.

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