Ferrari set for a ‘chess game’ with Red Bull at Imola

Michelle Foster
Red Bull man Max Verstappen racing Charles Leclerc. Imola April 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen racing the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc, side by side for the win. Imola April 2022

Ferrari racing director Laurent Mekies says it will come down to the “small details” as the Scuderia take on Red Bull for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix win.

On Saturday it was first blood to Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver making a late pass on Charles Leclerc to win the 21-lap sprint qualifying race and take pole position for Sunday’s feature grand prix.

Verstappen will line up P1 on the grid ahead of Leclerc with both championship hopefuls with their team-mates right behind them.

Sergio Perez is starting third with Carlos Sainz, who put in a recovery drive on Saturday after his qualifying crash on Friday night, P4.

It is expected to be a two-team race for the victory, and the other two podium spots, with Ferrari and Red Bull in a class of their own at the front of the field.

Mekies is predicting a game of chess.

“The simple truth is that they are very strong,” the Express quotes him as having told Sky Sports. “Not only is Max very fast, but also Checo. You could see that in his lap time.

I don’t think there is much between our cars this weekend. So, it will come down to small details.”

“We will learn from what happened. We all had limited time to drive in dry conditions. We have all evening to analyse the data and pretty much all tyre compounds are still available.

“It will be a chess game.”

Saturday’s sprint qualifying saw Leclerc struggle with graining, a problem that Ferrari’s rivals Red Bull have suffered with greatly this season while Ferrari seemed immune.

That changed on Saturday, with Mekies saying that while Ferrari expected some graining, they did not foresee such a massive drop-off as what Leclerc experienced.


“Here we expected graining, we knew it was an important topic,” the Frenchman told Sky Italia.

“On Friday, we didn’t have time to evaluate it, we looked at it Saturday morning, when it didn’t seem so bad as later today.

“On our car it was worse than on Red Bull, but as in other races the race was won just for a couple tenths so everything is still open.”

Additional reporting from Luca Brambilla


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