Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc resume battle at F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Max Verstappen will lead Charles Leclerc at the start of Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, as the reigning world champion attempts to get his title defence back on track.

After securing pole position in Friday’s qualifying, Red Bull’s Verstappen again proved the driver to beat on Saturday, winning the sprint race at Imola. 

Championship leader Leclerc finished second in the 100km sprint, extending his lead in the drivers’ standings.

It has been a terrific weekend so far for Verstappen, who is coming off a disappointing retirement last time out in Australia, putting his world title defence on the back foot. 

Verstappen did not have it all his own way in the sprint race, struggling at the start and falling behind Leclerc. 

The Dutchman said he was pleased his car could match it with the Ferrari, ultimately overtaking it for the sprint race win. 

“We did well as a team and it is of course a positive day for us,” he said.

“I didn’t have the best start so we need to investigate what happened there but after that, we had good race pace.”

Verstappen trails Leclerc in the drivers’ championship by 45 points.

Leclerc has been the stand-out driver so far this season, with two victories and a second from the opening three grands prix.

Ricciardo hopeful for more after a solid qualifying 

Australian Daniel Ricciardo has continued where he left off in Melbourne, finishing sixth in the Imola sprint race. 

The McLaren driver was unlucky at the start of Saturday’s sprint race, making a good start before being sandwiched between cars heading into the first braking zone. 

Ricciardo drove well to finish sixth, one place behind his teammate Lando Norris. 

The Australian said he believed there could be greater performance in his car that he hoped to unlock on Sunday, 

“I think we had a bit more to show, but I’m looking forward to [Sunday]. It should be good,” he said.

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