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Vasseur: A bit of a mixed feeling after the race in Bahrain

Vasseur: A bit of a mixed feeling after Bahrain

Vasseur: A bit of a mixed feeling after the race in Bahrain

Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur admitted to having mixed feelings after the Scuderia’s first race in 2024, the Bahrain Grand Prix, despite being the only team to take the fight to Red Bull.

Ferrari’s strength from 2023, their qualifying speed, remained intact with their 2024 Formula 1 single seater, the SF-24, and indeed, Charles Leclerc was the only driver to give Max Verstappen a hint of a challenge in qualifying, missing out on pole by over two tenths.

And while Leclerc’s challenge faded during the race due to brake issues on his car, Carlos Sainz took up the baton delivering an impressive race showing that Ferrari have indeed made progress in an area that was their Achilles heel in 2023 – race pace.

Speaking after the race on Saturday in Bahrain, Fred Vasseur gave his view of the race, he said: “You can say a bit of a mixed feeling after the race for sure.

“The positive is that we were able to do the pole position yesterday with the fastest lap of the session. And perhaps that we compensate 50% of the gap with Red Bull in the race, compared to one year ago, because we were at 50-something seconds in the race [in 2023].

“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,” the Ferrari Team Principal revealed.

Delving more into Leclerc’s brake problem, Vasseur said: “We don’t know yet, car is still in parc ferme. But 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.

“And 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,” he added.

Mixed feelings regarding tyre degradation as well

Quizzed whether Ferrari’s excessive tyre degradation issues during races are behind them, the Frenchman responded: “This is also a mixed feeling, one year ago I think in the race we were at eight/nine tenths, perhaps today we did 50% of the gap. But again, we are not there to be at four-tenths.

“But 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. It’s also a much better base to develop this year.

“I think the car is much easier for them [Leclerc and Sainz] to feel the car, from where we are weak and where we can improve; when last year it was much more difficult to have a good read on the car,” he pointed out.

And on whether the SF-24 is a car that can perform on all types of tracks, Vasseur said: “It’s very difficult to understand, because at the end of the day, for sure we are perhaps P2 today as a team, but it’s also very, very tight.

“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 setup is not the right one, or if the car is suited more with one track, it will change completely the classification of the top 10.

“It means that we don’t have to try to draw a conclusion today [Saturday]. 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.

“We have to consider that Jeddah will be a completely different story, it’s not the same layout, and it’s not the same tarmac. And we will have a better picture on the global situation after Melbourne probably, I would say. Before Melbourne it will be difficult to have a clear picture of the championship.

“But if you compare one year ago, we were one second away, we are perhaps five-tenths today. It’s 50%, it’s not enough, we are still behind. But to score the points of P3/P4 today with the circumstances I would think it’s not a drama,” Vasseur concluded.

(Reporting by Agnes Carlier, Writing by Jad Mallak)