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Verstappen explains the key to victory in Imola Sprint race

A beaming Max Verstappen was thrilled to have come from behind to win the Sprint race at Imola, defeating Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen has explained the Imola Sprint race from his perspective, having fought back from losing a position to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc on the first lap. After taking pole position in Friday qualifying, Verstappen fell to second when the lights went out as he endured a slow getaway – taking to the radio to complain about his gearbox synchronisation immediately afterward. Verstappen then stalked Leclerc throughout the 21-lap race, with the gap growing to 1.7 seconds at its peak. But, with the tyres seemingly going away from Leclerc and towards Verstappen, the Dutchman used the DRS to pass Leclerc with two laps to go. Speaking to the media after the race, having claimed eight points to close a solitary point on Leclerc in the Drivers' Championship, Verstappen described the race from his cockpit.

What happened at the start?

"The start was very bad," Verstappen commented. "I don't know exactly what happened or why it was so bad. [I] just [had] too much wheel spin but, after that, we had to stay calm. "Initially, it looked like Charles actually had a bit more pace, but then I think he ran out of tyres and we could close the gap and then go for the move into Turn 2. "I know maybe tomorrow it might be a bit different again but, for sure, today it worked out for us to be on this [Soft] compound. So [I'm] very happy to have [had] a clean Sprint race."

Is the stage set for Sunday's race?

Having won the Sprint with what appeared to be a quicker car on race pace, Verstappen said the much longer Grand Prix will feature far more challenges to overcome to claim maximum points on Sunday. With more tyre preservation required for the Grand Prix, Verstappen explained that he's still quite likely to be looking over his shoulder when the lights go out. "If I make a start like today, for sure, but let's see tomorrow," he said. "I'm happy about today, but I know that, tomorrow, other tyre compounds come into play. "It might be a bit different, but we had a good day."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix - Free Practice 2