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How Leclerc lost out to Verstappen in the Imola Sprint

Charles Leclerc was on course to win the Imola Sprint race, only for tyre issues to strike late on. RacingNews365.com technical analyst Paolo Filisetti takes a closer look at how the situation unfolded.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc had to concede defeat to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen with two laps remaining in Saturday's Sprint race at Imola. This was due to Ferrari unexpectedly suffering from more graining than Red Bull - especially on the front-right tyre - throughout the 21-lap encounter. Although Leclerc took the lead on the first lap, and had been driving in clean air thereafter, he still encountered significant lateral tyre slip. This phenomenon can be attributed to the set-up of his F1-75.

Ferrari's front wing in focus

On the Sprint grid, it was evident that the front wing (see above) had been adjusted, with Ferrari opting for more aerodynamic efficiency on the straights. Therefore, if the positions had remained unchanged at the start, Ferrari and Leclerc gave themselves more of an opportunity to pass Verstappen, while also making it more difficult for their rivals to overtake. At the end of the race, we saw that Verstappen had to get very close to Leclerc through the final corner to pass using the Drag Reduction System (DRS).

What about the Grand Prix?

Graining was predominantly seen on the front-right tyre due to Imola being a counter-clockwise circuit, meaning there is more pressure on this area through the many left-hand corners. Ferrari's set-up decision should work better in the main Grand Prix on Sunday, when Leclerc and Verstappen will not only use the Soft compound tyre. It is also worth mentioning that during second practice, Leclerc simulated a long run with the Medium compound, which he will probably use to start the 63-lap race. As such, the issue Leclerc suffered in the Sprint should not happen again.

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