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Bahrain GP: Ferrari takes its first podium despite issues

The Bahrain GP is the first step of the season and Ferrari had a good start. Despite the problems, the team is the second force on the grid!

After a long winter break, the Bahrain Grand Prix opens the Formula 1 2024 season. The teams are back on track in Sakhir and the aim is to challenge Red Bull and its star Max Verstappen.

Scuderia Ferrari, since the pre-season testing, seemed to be the one who can chase the World Champions, and the weekend in Bahrain seemed to confirm the expectations. From Free Practice until the very end of the race, Ferrari was the second force on the track. With Carlos Sainz on the podium and Charles Leclerc right behind him, even with some problems with his car, the team and the Tifosi can hope again.

Free Practice

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc of Ferrari during the Bahrain GP weekend

The Bahrain GP started on Thursday with FP1 and FP2. The choice to start a day earlier and have the actual race on Saturday was due to the start of the Ramadan.

The Bahrain International Circuit is probably one of the toughest tracks on the calendar. The weather, the 15 corners and the abrasive asphalt make the Bahrain GP a real challenge for every driver.

The first session wasn’t very indicative of the performances. In fact, the temperature during the morning was way too high compared to the Qualifying and the actual race. For this reason, Ferrari tried different setups and confirmed their improvements: the SF-24 seems to be way more predictable and consistent compared to last year’s car. Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were on medium compounds and didn’t go for the best lap time. They finished the session in p8 for Leclerc and p11 for Sainz.

The FP2 conditions were more similar to the actual race. This time, the team focused on the short and long run, using soft tyres for car 16 and 55.
Sainz was p4 (1:30.769) behind Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Fernando Alonso. Leclerc was p9 (1:31.113), after a mistake during his first short run attempt and a bit of traffic in the second one. As it had already emerged in the tests, the new Ferrari needed a cool down lap after the intense use of the softs and performs better on hard tyres.

On Friday, the last practice session saw Sainz at the top with a 1:30:824 lap time. Leclerc gained a provisional p1 at the start of the session, but later dropped to p4 after some mistakes in the first sector.

Qualifying session: we almost made it

It was finally Qualifying time at the Bahrain Grand Prix!

In Q1, Sainz was the first one to complete the lap. His teammate was right behind him, but couldn’t beat his lap time. The two Ferraris were on medium compound, but it was later changed with soft tyres. Once again, it was Sainz who took a provisional pole with a 1:29.909 time. He was also the only driver to not go back on track for a last attempt to make into Q2. On the other hand, Charles Leclerc tried again to improve his time, but ended on p4.

However, the Monégasque was the fastest driver during Q2. At the beginning, the Ferrari 16 was in p2 behind Lando Norris and ahead of Alonso and Sainz. Max Verstappen marked his best time, but Leclerc did an incredible lap of 1:29.165 and took provisional pole.

Unfortunately, in Q3 neither Leclerc nor Sainz were able to put all together to gain the pole position. Sainz ended up in p4 behind George Russell’s Mercedes and before Sergio Perez. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc gained the first row in p2, with only a +0.228 gap from the pole man Max Verstappen.

Once the session was over, Charles Leclerc commented: “I’m disappointed, but it’s a good qualifying. We are in a better place than last year. Pole was there in the car”. He then added: “I’m confident we did a step forward in race pace, but we have to wait until tomorrow”.

His teammate confirmed his words when he was asked about his qualifying result: “We didn’t find the last 2 tenths in Q3 that we recon the car had in it. But anyway, p4 so still anything can happen. We have the podium there close to us”.

It’s lights out

Considering the good results of the previous days, the whole Scuderia Ferrari was quite confident about their potential. The goal was to be as close to the Red Bulls as possible.

The Italian team put Leclerc and Sainz on used soft tyres for the start. At lights out, Verstappen kept the lead, followed by Leclerc and Russell. Sainz lost one position to Sergio Perez and dropped to p5.
Unfortunately, right after a few laps, Charles Leclerc opened his radio and informed the team of having issues with his brakes. This caused the driver to manage his brakes for the whole race, causing a lot of blockages, especially for the first half of the race. On lap 11, the two Ferrari went wheel-to-wheel and Sainz overtook his teammate. On the following lap, the Monégasque pitted for hard tyres while Sainz waited until lap 15 to defend himself from Russell and Perez.

When the Spanish driver came back on the track, he was once again behind Charles Leclerc. The two gave the fans another good fight and Sainz, with fresher tyres and a more stable car, came out on top.

At lap 36, despite his breaking problem, Leclerc drove the fastest lap. In the meantime, Carlos Sainz tried to chase Perez for p2, but wasn’t able to get in his DRS zone. Leclerc, took advantage of George Russell’s mistake, overtook him for p4.

At the end, it was Max Verstappen to win the Bahrain GP. Still, the Scuderia can celebrate the first podium of the season with Carlos Sainz. Not only that, but as Fred Vasseur, the Scuderia Ferrari TP, said also Charles Leclerc’s race is a good result considering all the problems he faced.

Now that Bahrain is done, all eyes are on Jeddah where Ferrari will have to consolidate its performance as second force.


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