Sports

Ferrari express relief after Charles Leclerc leads Carlos Sainz to one-two at Bahrain Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc led Carlos Sainz to a Ferrari one-two in Bahrain as the Italian team ended a 45-race winless streak; the season-opening victory has boosted hopes that Ferrari can compete for the drivers’ and constructors’ championships this season

Last Updated: 20/03/22 8:25pm



Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Charles Leclerc wins the opening race of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc wins the opening race of the season at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto said it was a relief to see his team end their long winless streak as Charles Leclerc led Carlos Sainz to a one-two at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Despite Ferrari having shown promise throughout the pre-season following the introduction of radical new design regulations for the 2022 season, Red Bull had come on strong in the final stages of testing and many expected world champion Max Verstappen to take charge at the opening race.

However, Leclerc outqualified the Dutchman and came out on top of an epic duel in the race, before Red Bull’s reliability failed late as both Verstappen and team-mate Sergio Perez retired to give Ferrari a one-two ahead of the two Mercedes.

The victory ended a 45-race winless streak – the second longest in their history – for Ferrari, which saw the team endure some dark times, most notably finishing sixth in the constructors’ standings in 2020.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says their one-two finish was a significant confidence boost for the team

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says their one-two finish was a significant confidence boost for the team

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says their one-two finish was a significant confidence boost for the team

“It is a relief,” Binotto told Sky Sports F1. “It’s fantastic. A one-two was unexpected. I think it was a great race.

“I was expecting Red Bull to be even stronger [than us]. I think they were strong, maybe they had some problems through the race with the braking system.

“It’s definitely a big boost. The team remained united before. It’s great to see, but certainly it’s a big boost to go ahead.”

Carlos Sainz overtakes Max Verstappen as he is forced to retire from the race due to technical faults in his car

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Carlos Sainz overtakes Max Verstappen as he is forced to retire from the race due to technical faults in his car

Carlos Sainz overtakes Max Verstappen as he is forced to retire from the race due to technical faults in his car

‘Incredible to be back at the top’

Both Ferrari drivers viewed the result as a statement performance for the Italian team.

“I’m so happy,” Leclerc said. “The last two years have been extremely difficult for the team.

“One-two today with Carlos, we couldn’t hope for better. It’s incredible to be back at the top.”

Leclerc, Sainz and Lewis Hamilton took the top three spots at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Leclerc, Sainz and Lewis Hamilton took the top three spots at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Leclerc, Sainz and Lewis Hamilton took the top three spots at the Bahrain Grand Prix

Sainz added: “Ferrari is back and it’s properly back.

“I think it’s a great day for the team. It’s a massive day. You cannot imagine how much hard work is behind this result. This last two years there’s been a lot of struggles, a lot of suffering and suddenly to come back with a one-two is huge.”

While expectations are always high at the most successful team in the sport’s history, the opening-race result will raise hopes of a first constructors’ title since 2008 and first drivers’ crown since 2007.

Verstappen and Leclerc battle for the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Verstappen and Leclerc battle for the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Verstappen and Leclerc battle for the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Binotto believes the best coping mechanism will be to ignore the hype, especially given he expects Mercedes, who were off the pace in Bahrain, and Red Bull to come back strong at next weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“No doubt the pressure is very high,” Binotto said. “But we need to try to focus on what we are doing and forget about it otherwise I think it will be too much stress.

“I’m pretty sure they will do the job and they will come back very strong. In a week’s time, it’s another race, another track – different characteristics. I’m pretty sure again it will be a nice fight for F1.”

Leclerc: I’ve grown since 2019 wins

Leclerc’s only two previous race victories in F1 had come back-to-back in 2019 as he won in Belgium before claiming a memorable victory at Ferrari’s home Grand Prix in Monza.

The 24-year-old says it was a different feeling this time around.

Leclerc says he was always confident of coming out on top in his battle with Verstappen, even before the Red Bull was forced to retire

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Leclerc says he was always confident of coming out on top in his battle with Verstappen, even before the Red Bull was forced to retire

Leclerc says he was always confident of coming out on top in his battle with Verstappen, even before the Red Bull was forced to retire

“A victory is always very, very special and I definitely feel much more grown compared to my victories as a driver in 2019,” Leclerc said.

“Here today everything felt a bit more under control and it felt nice.

“Obviously there were some very tense moments on track with Max, after the first stop, with the Safety Car restart after that, but everything was managed home and I could bring the victory home.”

Sainz: I have homework to do

Despite coming close to pole on Saturday and finishing second, Sainz cut a frustrated figure throughout the weekend as he often failed to keep pace with his team-mate, most notably during the race as Leclerc and Verstappen pulled clear before the late Safety Car bunched the field.

The Spaniard, who is starting his second season with Ferrari after joining from McLaren last year, made it clear he will not be satisfied playing a supporting role to Leclerc.

Sainz says it is a special day for the team after securing a one-two finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sainz says it is a special day for the team after securing a one-two finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix

Sainz says it is a special day for the team after securing a one-two finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix

“It’s a confirmation that this weekend hasn’t been easy for me at all,” Sainz said. “I’ve been lacking pace all weekend, except for Q2 and Q3 when I fought for pole.

“It shows that I still have to understand this car, I need to set it up a bit more maybe for my liking. I have some homework to do over these few days.

“The positive, is that on probably my toughest weekend at Ferrari, I still finished P2. So time to get my head down and fight for P1s.”

Follow the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Sky Sports

Sky Sports F1 is your home for every race this season, and it continues with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix next weekend.

We will have build-up right through the week before covering all the action live from Friday’s first practice at 2pm with the second practice session following at 5pm.

Saturday’s practice is at 2pm with qualifying at 5pm before Sunday’s race starts at 6pm in the UK. Sky Sports F1 will be on air from 4.30pm to build up to the action.

As always, you can also follow the action online on the Sky Sports App.

The Formula 1 season continues on Friday on Sky Sports F1 with the Saudi Arabian GP. Sunday’s race starts at 6pm. Find out more & subscribe.



File source

Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close