Ahead of Ferrari’s Formula 1 home race in Imola, rival Red Bull has reaffirmed the Scuderia’s position as favourites.

At this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, world championship leader Charles Leclerc can extend his lead in the Ferrari even with the extra points from the sprint race. For the first time this year, it will happen on Saturday.

The winner gets eight points this season, and a maximum of 26 points are possible in Sunday’s race. In the world championship standings, Leclerc already leads by 34 points over Mercedes newcomer George Russell after three races.

“Ferrari are good at every temperature, on every track, with every type of tyre. They are the new benchmark,” Red Bull’s motorsport director Helmut Marko told Sport Bild. He said this was particularly true of the 24-year-old Leclerc, who was also driving at a different level to his team-mate Carlos Sainz.

Reliability worries Red Bull

Red Bull star Max Verstappen is only seventh after two retirements in the still young season. With 25 points thanks to his win in Saudi Arabia, the Dutch world champion is well behind Leclerc’s 71 points. Record world champion Lewis Hamilton also only has 28 points in sixth place in the Mercedes. Both teams are struggling with weight problems with their new cars, among other things, and Red Bull is also very concerned about the reliability of the current model.