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After 18 Years, Charles Leclerc Replaces Michael Schumacher in Being the Flag Bearer of Ferrari’s Imola Success

Nischay Rathore

After 18 Years, Charles Leclerc Replaces Michael Schumacher in Being the Flag Bearer of Ferrari’s Imola Success

After topping the timing sheet in the first two practice sessions, Charles Leclerc looked on track to win in Imola. However, he fell well short of the pole position as he only managed to register the fourth-fastest time on Saturday. As Oscar Piastri in P2 took a penalty, the Monegasque luckily got bumped up a place on the starting grid. Taking advantage of the situation, he clung on to bag a podium finish. That has finally broken the Ferrari podium deadlock in Imola.

The last time Ferrari bagged a podium finish in Imola was when Michael Schumacher secured one back in 2006. Schumacher started the race from the pole position with Fernando Alonso being a constant threat. The German driver fought the pressure from the Spaniard to emerge victorious in Ferrari’s backyard.

Unfortunately, Imola never saw another Ferrari driver take the podium for the next 18 years. That was because of the team’s inconsistent performance.

After Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 championship win, the Maranello outfit has often emerged as a title contender. However, it has failed to bag the prestigious trophy each time. On occasions, strategy has let the team down despite drivers giving it their all on the track.

The podium finish for Charles Leclerc isn’t one that they’d wholeheartedly celebrate either. Max Verstappen struggled with the car’s balance in low speeds and corners for almost the entirety of the weekend.

That made for a golden opportunity for Ferrari and Leclerc to repeat what Schumacher did back in 2006. However, they couldn’t do much as the Dutchman and Lando Norris found the sweet spot in their cars.

Have upgrades let Ferrari down?

Ferrari walked into Imola with an air of confidence around them. The reason behind it was their first extensive upgrade package. While they introduced changes to virtually every major part of the car, the most visible one was on the side pods.

The air inlets looked identical to Red Bull’s RB20 design. However, the package failed to live up to the expectations as the Tifosi had to make do with a podium finish when they expected a win.

McLaren, meanwhile, looks to be on the right path in the development battle. The Papaya team introduced its first major set of upgrades in Miami. With Lando Norris winning that race, the Woking-based outfit’s gamble paid off.

It continued to impress as both McLaren drivers finished within a tenth of pole position holder Max Verstappen’s time during qualifying in Imola. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Norris finished within just 0.725 seconds of Verstappen, bagging P2.

This recent uptick in performance should be alarming for Ferrari as McLaren continues to eat into their lead for the runner-up spot. Since Ferrari lost that place to Mercedes in 2023, they surely wouldn’t want to lose it to McLaren in 2024.

Post Edited By:Vidit Dhawan

About the author

Nischay Rathore

Nischay Rathore


Nischay Rathore is an F1 journalist at The SportsRush with over a thousand articles under his belt. An avid Ayrton Senna admirer, Nischay embarked on his sports journalism journey despite completing graduation in Law. When not covering the high-speed thrills of the pinnacle of motorsport, he can be seen enjoying crime thrillers and 90s gangster movies with a hearty bowl of buttery popcorn.

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