Rosberg hails ‘relentless’ Verstappen in sprint charge

Jamie Woodhouse
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, overtakes Charles Leclerc, Ferrari. Italy, April 2022.

2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg hailed a typically relentless Max Verstappen attack in Imola, while he fears for Ferrari and their tyre life.

As sprint qualifying returned for 2022, Verstappen was presented with a vital opportunity to recover points, having suffered two costly retirements while running P2 at the Bahrain and Australian GPs.

He had the perfect starting place from pole, but it was championship leader Charles Leclerc who got the better start, jumping Verstappen and controlling much of the race.

In the latter stages though Red Bull told Verstappen over the radio that Leclerc was struggling with graining, and he duly closed in on the Ferrari driver, making the pass to take the lead.

From there Leclerc had no response as Verstappen controlled the final few laps and claimed P1 on the grid, along with eight valuable points.

It was a hunt very much out of the Verstappen playbook to Rosberg’s mind.

“Verstappen, just typical, so relentless,” Rosberg told Sky Sports F1.

“It is like he is one of those guys you least want to see in your mirrors getting bigger and bigger because you know that guy is going to attack, giving it 100 per cent.

“That is what he did again with a brilliant move which was fantastic to see.”

Despite both Leclerc and Verstappen using the soft compound for the sprint, Verstappen was clearly able to keep performance in them for longer than Leclerc.

So, looking ahead to the Grand Prix, Rosberg believes that this was indeed worrying for Ferrari.

“It certainly is quite a worry for Ferrari because the tyre deg was very big at the end there,” he said.

“The lap time difference between the two was quite significant so that is not going to make it easy for them tomorrow.”

 

Not only was this the first sprint of 2022, it was also the first one to take place since the major regulatory change.

Imola is a track where overtaking is usually at a premium, but there were plenty of moves going on during sprint qualifying.

The concept is one which has rather polarised fans and F1 personnel alike, but Rosberg is definitely a fan.

“I am loving these sprint races, to be honest,” he confirmed. “It was really fun to watch, really good action and I am all for it.”

 

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