‘Lovely gear sync that’: Verstappen blames Red Bull for poor Imola sprint start

Max Verstappen beat Charles Leclerc to victory in the sprint race ahead of Sunday's 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen had a sarcastic comment for Red Bull after his start for the sprint race at the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which saw him fall behind Charles Leclerc.

Having taken pole by seven tenths of a second in incredibly tricky conditions, Leclerc launched excellently at the beginning of the 21-lap dash in Bologna, surpassing the Dutchman as they headed into the Tamburello chicane.

The two 24-year-olds were already comprehensively clear of the rest of the field as they hurtled into the Villeneuve chicane, and that gave Verstappen a bit of time to share a semi-serious message with his team.

READ: Sebastian Vettel branded Formula 1’s GOAT after Imola qualifying

“Lovely gear sync that,” he amusingly told the pit wall after he had conceded the lead of the 100km dash.

Verstappen was able to stick with Leclerc for the majority of the sprint, but the Ferrari seemed able to maintain the gap at comfortably over a second.

Interestingly, and perhaps conversely to the opening three rounds of the year, the Ferrari looked a little worse on its tyres than the Red Bull, and the reigning champion was able to catch back up and pass his rival for the win late on.

READ: Charles Leclerc sends warning to Ferrari ahead of Imola GP

It was put to the Red Bull driver that he might need to be wary of the threat from behind given the multitude of overtakes we saw during the sprint into Tamburello, and he indicates that the different compounds being utilised on Sunday will also play a role.

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“If I make a start like today for sure but let’s see tomorrow,” he told Naomi Schiff after the race.

“I’m of course happy about today but I know that tomorrow with also other tyre compounds coming into play it might be a bit different but we had a good day.”

Verstappen has closed the gap to Leclerc to 45 points after his sprint victory on Saturday, and the win will be crucial to his and Red Bull’s morale after a difficult start to the year.