Formula 1 Commentary

Live: F1 Emilia Romagna GP commentary and updates – FP2 & Sprint

Minute-by-minute updates on Saturday practice and the sprint race for the Formula 1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

Charles Leclerc leads the early F1 drivers’ world championship by 34 points from MercedesGeorge Russell, following his dominant victory at the Australian GP last time out.

Max Verstappen will start the sprint race from pole position after topping a wet qualifying at Imola on Friday afternoon ahead of Leclerc.

Final practice for the Emilia Romagna GP gets underway at 11.30am BST (12.30pm local time), followed by the sprint race which starts at 3.30pm BST (4.30pm local time).


By: Haydn Cobb, James Newbold


  • Max Verstappen takes victory in F1's Emilia Romagna GP sprint race after passing early leader Charles Leclerc with two laps to go
  • The Red Bull driver will start on pole for Sunday's race ahead of Ferrari's Leclerc, who still increased his championship lead to 40 points, and team-mate Sergio Perez
  • Carlos Sainz recovers from qualifying mishap to finish fourth, as Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen complete the points
  • Mercedes unable to make inroads after double Q2 exit in qualifying, with George Russell 11th and Lewis Hamilton 14th
  • Zhou Guanyu crashes out after lap one contact with Pierre Gasly


  1. Verstappen, Red Bull
  2. Leclerc, Ferrari
  3. Perez, Red Bull
  4. Sainz, Ferrari
  5. Norris, McLaren
  6. Ricciardo, McLaren
  7. Bottas, Alfa Romeo
  8. Magnussen, Haas
  9. Alonso, Alpine
  10. Schumacher, Haas
Status: Stopped
The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola starts at 2pm BST tomorrow, and we'll have full Live text coverage from the race starting half an hour beforehand. Thanks very much for joining us today, and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
Want to know the even better news? Tomorrow, we get to do it all over again and add strategic variation into the mix. Verstappen appeared to have better pace than Leclerc over a longer stint on the soft, but we'll never know how things would have panned out if Leclerc had opted for an undercut onto fresh rubber. We might just get to find out tomorrow...
It wasn't a good day for Mercedes then, but it was a good one for Red Bull and Ferrari as Max Verstappen overhauled early leader Charles Leclerc to win the Imola sprint. Here's the full report from Matt Kew:
Question for you then. Was that the best sprint race we've had so far? Or does it underline the perceived problem with sprints in that they allow underachievers in qualifying to redress the balance before the grand prix start proper?
The happiest men in the place will likely be Perez and Sainz, whose recoveries mean their Red Bull and Ferrari cars are now where we'd expect them to be at the sharp end of the grid. Could either of them come into play tactically tomorrow in support of their team-mates? Perez incidentally is still ahead of Verstappen in the standings, but now by just three points.
Sainz's fourth place means he now moves ahead of Russell to sit second in the drivers' standings - albeit 40 points behind early leader Leclerc.
That result means we'll get another Verstappen versus Leclerc fight off the line in tomorrow's grand prix. Will either have learned an important lesson to use for their duel to the first corner?
Jean Alesi is on hand to present the top three with their medals on a podium that looks somewhat underbaked. You get the impression that the tifosi favourite would have rather handed the #1 medal over to Leclerc.
After his first lap tangle with Guanyu, which was investigated by the stewards but no action taken, Gasly passed both Williams cars to finish 17th. Not a great day at the office for the AlphaTauri man.
Behind Alonso, Schumacher will start the grand prix from tenth, as Russell and Tsunoda both passed a struggling Vettel late on for 11th and 12th positions. Hamilton finishes a subdued 14th behind his former adversary.
Bottas dropped back from eighth to tenth at the start, but fought back well with passes on Vettel, Alonso and Magnussen to claim seventh, while Magnussen takes the final point with eighth - perhaps left to rue going conservative on tyre choice as he was unable to fend off cars behind him on the long front straight.
Norris and Ricciardo though take solid fifth and sixth places into tomorrow's grand prix, firmly establishing McLaren as the best of the rest behind the battling Red Bull and Ferrari squads.
Perez fights through the pack from seventh on the grid to claim third, while Sainz marauded from even further back - tenth - to take fourth with a late pass on Norris, who was quickly dropped by the leading pair and had no answer for the Red Bull or Ferrari's pace.
Leclerc finishes second, but minimises the points loss over Verstappen to a single point. "That's it, right?" asks Verstappen over the radio, unsure whether or not the sprint had indeed finished.
Since moving in front, Verstappen has pulled away from Leclerc who has no answer to the Red Bull's pace. He crosses the line to win the Imola sprint by 2.9 seconds and claim a maximum of eight points.
Bottas meanwhile has also passed Magnussen for seventh - the Haas driver currently clinging onto eighth and the last available point with Alonso seemingly unable to challenge, sliding increasingly on his worn softs.
Sainz has now passed Norris for fourth, unseen by the cameras. A fine recovery from the Spaniard.
Leclerc defended the inside line, but Verstappen was much closer than he'd been on previous laps and swept around the outside, leaving Leclerc with little option other than to back out.
And Verstappen has done it! He carries more speed around the outside line into Tamburello starting lap 20 of 21 and Leclerc opts to let him have it.
"Left hand toggle is available," Verstappen is told by his engineer. "No, just leave me to it," is the response from the terse Dutchman.
Once again Verstappen looms large in Leclerc's mirrors as he brakes for Tamburello, but the Red Bull is having to come from too far back to challenge. We're on lap 19 of 21 now, just two more chances for Verstappen now.
Sainz hasn't given up his pursuit of Norris meanwhile, with just over a second between the McLaren and the recovering Ferrari driver in fifth. It's not over yet.
Verstappen is right with Leclerc as they brake for Tamburello on lap 18, but the Ferrari man had got a brilliant exit from Rivazza 2 and Verstappen was never close enough to think about having a go. Will that be the case next time around though?
Verstappen's engineer informs him that Leclerc is struggling with graining on his front right tyre. Four laps to go.
It's hotting up at the front! Verstappen has now got the gap right down to half a second and could be within DRS range to challenge next time around. Hold onto your hats.
Alonso gets a black and white flag for weaving on the straight, but Bottas doesn't need a penalty to get through on the Alpine driver - Alonso gets a big snap of oversteer exiting Rivazza 2 and the Alfa Romeo man pulls alongside on the pit straight before completing the move for eighth into Tamburello.
While one Haas on mediums trickles backwards, the other has gradually inched forward. Schumacher now claims tenth from Vettel.
Magnussen on his medium tyres has now fallen into the clutches of Alonso, who remains ahead of Bottas in the Alfa. Was it a mistake for Haas to opt for the cautious strategy?
Sainz picks up another place with the aid of DRS into Tamburello. This time its Ricciardo who has to give best as the Ferrari man claims fifth spot.
Now Perez has moved ahead of Norris, he's kept the gap to Leclerc stable at six seconds, but is showing little signs of closing on Verstappen ahead.
Still Leclerc leads Verstappen out front, the gap between them 1.4 seconds at the end of lap 12. Verstappen hasn't shown any inkling yet that he's able to get near enough to challenge the Ferrari man.
Sainz makes short work of Magnussen into Tamburello starting lap 12, and now moves into sixth. It's been a good recovery so far from the second Ferrari after his Q2 crash prevented him from taking any part in Q3 yesterday. Meanwhile behind them Bottas challenges Alonso for eighth, but has to give best for now.
Hamilton has gained back one of the places he lost at the start at the expense of Stroll, but it's still only P14 for the seven-time world champion.
Perez has now passed Norris for third, while Ricciardo makes full use of DRS to take fifth from Magnussen into Tamburello.
Bottas meanwhile has passed Vettel for ninth. His next target will be Alonso, who has fallen away from the pack squabbling over fifth with Magnussen holding up Ricciardo and Sainz.
Norris has fallen six seconds off the lead in the third-placed McLaren, and now has Perez less than a second behind him in the second Red Bull. A change of position will surely not be far away.
At the front, Leclerc is just keeping Verstappen out of DRS range. The gap between them was 1.2 seconds last time around, although Verstappen was two tenths quicker last time around.
Magnussen's hold on fourth is now loosened. Perez was just half a second behind at the line starting lap eight and breezed past using DRS on the approach to Tamburello.
Sainz continues his march up the order by passing Alonso for seventh into Tamburello starting lap seven. Next in his sights is Ricciardo ahead.