Ferrari ready for a ‘game of chess’ with Red Bull at Emilia-Romagna GP

Ferrari race director Laurent Mekies says it will come down to the “little details” as the Scuderia take on Red Bull for victory in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Saturday was first blood for Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver who passed Charles Leclerc late to win the 21-lap sprint qualifying race and take pole position for Sunday’s grand prix.

Verstappen will line up the P1 on the grid ahead of Leclerc with the two championship hopefuls with their teammates right behind them.

Sergio Perez starts third with Carlos Sainz, who completed recovery training on Saturday after his qualifying crash on Friday night, P4.

It is expected to be a two-team race for victory and the other two podium places, with Ferrari and Red Bull in a class of their own at the front of the pack.

Mekies predicts a game of chess.

“The simple truth is that they are very strong,” the Express quote him as telling Sky Sports. “Not only is Max very fast, but also Checo. You could see him in his lap time.

I don’t think there’s much going on between our cars this weekend. So it will come down to small details.

“We will learn from what happened. We all had limited time to drive in dry conditions. We have the whole evening to analyze the data and pretty much every tire compound is still available.

“It will be a game of chess.”

Saturday’s sprint qualifying saw Leclerc struggle with graining, a problem Ferrari rivals Red Bull have suffered badly from this season as Ferrari seemed immune.

That changed on Saturday, with Mekies saying that while Ferrari expected some graining, they weren’t anticipating a drop as massive as Leclerc’s.

“Here we expected graining, we knew it was an important topic,” the Frenchman told Sky Italia.

“Friday we didn’t have time to assess it, we watched it on Saturday morning, when it didn’t seem so bad until later in the day.

“On our car it was worse than on Red Bull, but like in other races, the race was only won by a few tenths, so everything is still open.”

Additional reporting by Luca Brambilla

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