Red Bull explains why it had upper hand over Ferrari at Imola

Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner believes the team’s ability to get its tyres into a better operating window was the key to beating Ferrari at Imola.

Lando Norris, McLaren, 3rd position, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, 2nd position, celebrate on the podium

Max Verstappen scored his second victory of the 2022 season by controlling proceedings in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, leading home Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

It marked Red Bull’s first 1-2 finish since the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix as it capitalised on a difficult race for Ferrari on home turf.

Carlos Sainz retired on the opening lap after contact with Daniel Ricciardo, while Charles Leclerc spun off the track while chasing Perez for second place in the closing stages. Leclerc ultimately recovered to finish sixth.

Red Bull scored 58 out of a possible 59 points over the sprint race weekend as it enjoyed an edge over Ferrari for outright pace, which Horner put down to how the RB18 car worked with the tyres.

“As we saw in Melbourne, the tyres, there's an operating window, and with the setup this weekend, we got it right,” Horner explained.

“We could see that Charles was struggling a little bit more with the front tyres here than we were, both in yesterday's race and it was starting to happen in the latter part of today's race.

“So that just gave us the the upper hand, and I think Max was able to manage the race perfectly.

“Checo was able to build a gap to Charles and manage that gap. And at no point other than one trip across the grass with Checo did we really come under too much pressure.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, the rest of the field

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, the rest of the field

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen scored pole position in Friday’s qualifying session, but was able to recover from losing the lead of the sprint race to Leclerc off the line to overtake the Ferrari in the closing stages of the Saturday event.

Ferrari opted to bring Leclerc in for a second stop late in the Sunday race, taking a set of softs the team hoped would help him catch Perez, only for the spin to end the team’s hopes of splitting the Red Bulls.

Ferrari F1 boss Mattia Binotto felt tyre management had been a more noticeable weakness for the team in the sprint race, but conceded the lack of dry practice running may have impacted its understanding of the medium compound used in the race.

“We have only very little [time] to set up the car, only one session on Friday, which was completely wet, so very little data to collect on drivers to do even the long run,” Binotto said.

“It is true we had FP2 on Saturday morning, but the feeling is that we have a lack of experience through this weekend when coming to the sprint race.

“But you are right that Red Bull did a better job in that respect. So we will certainly review and understand why we couldn't do as well such a good job.”

The result saw Red Bull slash Ferrari’s lead in the constructors’ championship down to just 11 points, as well as drawing level at two wins apiece for the teams in the opening four rounds of the season.

Horner thought the fight between Red Bull and Ferrari would continue to be “horses for courses” this year, swinging back and forth due to the fine margins involved.

“Ferrari have got a great car, they've got great drivers,” Horner said.

“They've been unlucky at this race. But for sure, they're going to be super competitive in two weeks' time. And I think it'll be like that for the whole season.”

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