Ferrari and McLaren get ready to face Red Bull in Emilia-Romagna

IMOLA.- Taken down from his pedestal two weeks ago in Miami, Max Verstappen (Red Bull) will try to return to the top this weekend at the Formula 1 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, although the intentions of Ferrari and McLaren They are not going to make it easy for the three-time world champion.

At the wheel of his super-powerful RB20, perhaps the time has come when 'Mad Max', World Cup leader, should look in the rearview mirror. Absolute dominator for two years, the reigning Dutch champion has already missed out on two victories in six races this season, in Australia in March and in Miami at the beginning of May.

Before him, the Ferraris of the Spanish Carlos Sainz, winner in Australia, and the Monegasque Charles Leclerc are on the lookout and this weekend they are also racing at home. The Imola track is less than 100 kilometers from Maranello, its historic headquarters, an opportunity for the Scuderia to make its team dream.

In the paddock's return to Europe, the legendary Prancing Horse team will initially have a series of improvements to its SF-24 that, according to some experts, could significantly reduce the deficit with respect to the Red Bulls.

Before the 7th round of the season, the Italian team (187 points) is 52 points behind its Austrian rival (239 points) in the constructors' championship.

Among the drivers, although Verstappen (136 points) continues to monopolize first place overall ahead of his Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez (103 points), Leclerc, third, is only five points behind Pérez, with 98.

Behind that trio, the British Lando Norris is 4th with 83 units. Becoming the 114th driver in Miami to win a GP, the McLaren driver certainly benefited from a stroke of luck (a race management error with the safety car) to win his first GP in the elite, but also showed all the power of the MCL38 against the Red Bull.

That victory “does not mean that our mission is over,” relativized the Team Principal of the Andrea Stella team. “That result allowed us to rekindle our goal of regularly achieving victories and podiums.”

To approach this challenge, the English team will also be able to count on its other driver, the Australian Oscar Piastri, who will have the improvements made to Norris's car two weeks ago.

In order to get closer to the leading teams, Mercedes (64 points) will also bet on an improved W15. But will it be enough to rival Red Bull and its champion? The boss of the German team, Toto Wolff, acknowledged that “we will have to wait several races before seeing results.”

Honor for a legend:

Back on the calendar after being canceled at the last minute due to flooding in the region last year, the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix will be the occasion for the paddock to pay tribute to Ayrton Senna, who died thirty years ago. on that same Imola circuit.

The Frenchman Pierre Gasly (Alpine) will wear a yellow helmet in tribute to the Brazilian legend, one of his “sports heroes” who “incited” him to take up motor racing. The helmet will then be sold at auction to raise funds for the Ayrton Senna Foundation, which supports the education of children in Brazil.

Sebastian Vettel, now retired from the F1 circuit, will drive the Brazilian's 1993 McLaren MP4/8 on the circuit on Sunday morning.

On May 1, the day of his death, a ceremony took place in his memory in the Italian city and in that of the Austrian Roland Ratzenberger, who died a day before the Brazilian in another accident.