Mixed fortunes for Ferrari pair

Mixed fortunes for Ferrari pair


While Carlos Sainz admits surprise at being able to keep pace with at least one Red Bull, teammate Charles Leclerc rues a brake issue.

Having lost out to Max Verstappen at the start, Leclerc could at least console himself in the knowledge that he could continue to shadow the Red Bull while the race played out and any possible opportunities arose.

However, an issue that caused his fronts to lock-up first allowed George Russell to take advantage and then Sergio Perez.

“It was impossible in the first 15 laps,” he declared at race end, “the issue was getting a lot worse every lap. I was always trying to anticipate the brakes, but wherever I was the issue was bigger, locking up again

“I was basing my braking for Turn 9 to 10 with the previous lap, which obviously fell too late all the time,” he added. “Every time I would brake three metres earlier but I would still lock-up.

“The issue was getting a lot worse, but at least I knew there was an issue and I knew what to expect… but it still felt horrible.

“The team told me on the radio that there was more than 100 degrees split between from front right and front left, which is huge,” he added. “I had to change completely the brake balance, the engine braking to try and counter the front right brake that wasn’t working properly.

“I understood that the best thing I could do was just to bring the car home to the chequered flag,” said the Monegasque, who managed to pass Russell for fourth just a dozen laps from the end. “At lap 15 or 20, the issue stabilised,” he revealed. “We started to be more consistent when the issue didn’t worsen on every lap.

I was quite surprised when I was hearing the pace at the end of the race,” he smiled. “We were doing relatively good lap times with a car that was feeling completely out of place. The pace was better than what I expected with an issue like this.

“Considering everything, finishing fourth is a really good effort,” he concluded. “But I’m very disappointed with the results, I honestly think that second place would have been very possible today.”

Teammate Sainz however suffered no such issues.

“I felt really good out there today,” said the Spaniard. “The start wasn’t ideal, but from then on, I just managed my tyres well, and then from there, I could do my pace… overtook two or three cars on the way to the podium, and then keeping up with the Red Bull there at the end, which was a pleasant surprise.

“It’s still not enough, not where we want to be,” he added, “but good steps forward compared to last year and a solid start to the season.

“With the hards, we feel a bit more comfortable because it overheats less, it degrades less,” he explained. “It is a bit of a tricky tyre with warm-up and with front locking, but then once we get it working in our car, you can push.”

Looking ahead to next week’s race at Jeddah, he said: “It’s the first different circuit that we go with this new car so it will be a bit of a surprise for everyone to see where we are. I expect the cars like the McLaren and the Red Bull that last year they were very good in high-speed circuits to be competitive there, but you know our car has also improved in the high speed so hopefully we can be also strong there.”

“You can say, a bit of a mixed feeling after the race, for sure,” said team boss Frederic Vasseur. The positive is that we were able to do the pole position yesterday with the fastest lap of the Q2 session.

“Perhaps that we compensated 50% of the gap with Red Bull in the race, compared to one year ago, because then we were at 50-something seconds in the race.

“The negative is that it’s not enough, and that we had again, too many issues during the weekend. We need to fix the issue on Charles’s car with the brakes. But I think overall he did a very good job, and then from the pit-wall also, because we were able to manage the situation to save P4 in these conditions. Honestly, during the first stint when I saw the situation, I was not very optimistic.

“We had a huge delta of temperature between left and right, and it was pulling on the braking, and locking, and it was very difficult to fix it. At one stage it came back when he was in the slipstream of someone. The brakes switched on, and the last part of the race was OK.”

Contrary to Sainz’ feeling, Vasseur remains concerned at the gap in pace to the Red Bulls.

“One year ago, I think in the race we were at eight-nine tenths, perhaps today we did 50% of the gap. But we are not there to be at four tenths.

“If you compare with last year, and the recovery that we had during the season, the fact that we are able to fight with them in the last part, I think we have a good opportunity,” he added. “It’s also a much better base to develop this year. I think the car is much easier for them to feel the car, from where we are weak and where we can improve. Last year it was much more difficult to have a good read on the car.

“At the end of the day, for sure we are perhaps P2 today as a team, but it’s also very, very tight,” he admitted. “The gap between P1 and P10 was reduced by 50% compared to last year, it means for that every single issue that you will have or if the set-up is not the right one, or if the car is suited more with one track, it will change completely the classification of the top ten.

“It means that we don’t have to try to draw a conclusion today. It’s far too early. I’m quite happy with the points that we scored today. I was expecting a bit more, but due to circumstances it’s a good one. And let’s be focused on next week, and start from scratch.”

Check out our Saturday gallery from Bahrain here.


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