despite the fervor of the fans, Charles Leclerc and Ferrari lose their Imola lands

“It’s a pleasure to see the stands completely red again. » For a year, the circuits were rather invaded by the color orange, that of the faithful of the Dutchman Max Verstappen. As Jacques Villeneuve, a former Formula 1 world champion in Imola, pointed out, Ferrari fans communicated at home during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday 24 April. His fervor, however, was not rewarded. His favorite team went through the Italian date completely.

Defending champion Verstappen did a great job with his Red Bull winning the sprint race on Saturday and the Grand Prix on Sunday. Back in the drivers’ standings (second with 59 points). His teammate Sergio Pérez finished second while the British Lando Norris (McLaren) took third place. Thanks to his double, the Red Bull team also made a spectacular rise in the constructors’ standings: 113 points against 124 for Ferrari.

Local idol Charles Leclerc maintains the lead in the drivers’ standings (27 points ahead) but made his first big mistake of the season. On the way to a third place, quite satisfactory given the circumstances, the Monegasque was too greedy. About ten laps from the finish, Sergio Pérez’s Red Bull attacked too hard and turned around. Starting ninth, he only managed to climb to a very disappointing sixth position, conceding seven points to the championship in the maneuver. The 24-year-old also apologized on the radio to his team after crossing the line.

“We are really fans”

The first corner of the first lap was a bad omen for Ferrari, who immediately lost one of its two drivers, the Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr., pushed helplessly into the gravel by Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren). Leclerc also had a difficult start, dropping from second to fourth. Very quickly, the public outcry greeted his overtaking on Lando Norris (McLaren) which allowed him to get back on a podium which he could not settle for. At the front, the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Pérez led too fast a pace.

On the banks of the Santerno River, in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna Motor Valley, famous for its gastronomy and cutting-edge car industry, Ferrari’s red color, firmly established in these lands, is present everywhere. For three days, this red polished the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit, like the hill overlooking the track, purple with all that popular passion.

The walls of some Imola buildings are decorated with photos of past Grand Prix.

Privileged guest in the middle of the cars on the grid before the start, Marco Verratti, recent French football champion with PSG, summed up this passion: “In Italy, when you’re young, you’re a big fan of this sport. » A vibrant Brothers of Italy, the Italian anthem, was picked up by the audience to cheer on Ferrari. Insufficient.

As soon as you leave the station of Imola, as you travel the two kilometers in a straight line to this cathedral of motoring, the roar of the engines becomes more and more marked, in this city whose heart only beats to the beat of the rampant horse mark. . Some say they can tell by the noise in the center what kind of motors are roaring on the circuit.

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On Sunday, crowded trains had thrown crowds of spectators from Bologna, 40 kilometers further west. By 2020, the race had already appeared on the F1 calendar between 1981 and 2006 as the San Marino Grand Prix, before disappearing for fourteen years. In 1994, he was here, 80 kilometers from the Ferrari factory in Maranello, where Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger died during the same tragic race weekend.

On the way to the circuit, trattoria, pastry shop On coffee show red Ferrari flags. On the walls of municipal buildings are photos of the past. As a preserved relic, a shop window features the dress of a former Ferrari driver, which was worn by Eddie Irvine during his first tests with the manufacturer (1996-1999). Police are even displaying their race car, a Lamborghini, in the central square, whose production plant is very close by. “And why not a Ferrari? »remarked Luigi, a taxi driver who confirmed that this machine can be crossed on the surrounding roads all year round.

A Lamborghini of the Italian police is shown in the central square of Imola.

“This is our year”

On Friday, the rainy morning of the first free practice, Mattia, a gardener from Imola, had a big smile when we talked about the rebirth of his favorite team, which has been chasing the world title since 2008. [celui de constructeurs] and since 2007 [celui des pilotes]. “This is our yearexclaims. Whenever Grand Prix weekend arrives, it’s nice when the city turns red. » As an omen, an English fan showed a T-shirt by Kimi Raïkkönen, the Finnish driver who last won the Ferrari driver classification in 2007.

This season, the hopes of the fans of the famous red brand are very real. Before the start, a victory for Charles Leclerc was not a miracle despite his second place at the starting line. The day before, the Monegasque had finished second in the speed race behind his rival Max Verstappen, the reigning world champion. Today he has never been able to fight for victory.

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For his fourth season at the wheel of a Ferrari, this is the first time Charles Leclerc can finally join the fight for the supreme title. “We will learn from what has just happened and become stronger”, consoled his engineer on the radio after the race. There is no doubt that he will be able to learn from the upcoming Grand Prix in Miami on Sunday, May 8th.

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