Max Verstappen Wins 2022 Emilia Romagna F1 Grand Prix; Charles Leclerc Finishes 6th

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 24, 2022

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands steers his car during the Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix, at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari racetrack in Imola, Italy, Sunday, April 24, 2022. (Guglielmo Mangiapane, Pool via AP)
Guglielmo Mangiapane, Pool via AP

Max Verstappen's up-and-down start to the 2022 Formula One season got back on track Sunday, as he cruised to a win at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Italy, for his second win of the season.

Verstappen was never seriously challenged after starting on the pole, staying well ahead of the field and even lapping Lewis Hamilton in Lap 41. Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez finished in second place, while Lando Norris, George Russell and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top five.

Formula 1 @F1

Mighty Max 💪<br><br>What a weekend it's been for the Dutchman <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ImolaGP?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ImolaGP</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/F1?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#F1</a> <a href="https://t.co/5ckvUFCGJl">pic.twitter.com/5ckvUFCGJl</a>

Points leader Charles Leclerc finished sixth. Leclerc still leads Verstappen by 27 points in the overall standings for the year.

Verstappen, the defending F1 champion, has had a wildly inconsistent start to his season. He failed to finish at both the Bahrain Grand Prix and last week's Australian Grand Prix but has thrown in wins at Saudi Arabia and Emilia Romagna.

"That was a very lovely Sunday," Verstappen said on his team radio. "It's always tough to achieve something like that but already yesterday, and the day before, we were on it and it was looking like a strong weekend."

Meanwhile, Hamilton's nightmare start to 2022 continued with another disappointing performance. The seven-time champion finished out of the points in a season-worst 13th place; the 2021 runner-up has yet to have a top-two finish in the first four races of the season for the first time since 2013.

“We are not good enough for a world champion,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said

Hamilton's next chance at righting the ship will come in the debuting Miami Grand Prix on May 8.