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Red Mist: Patience is a virtue

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Ferrari came away from last Saturday’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix with a rather surprising spring in its step, considering the race was obliterated by Red Bull.

Will we see the reason for that veiled optimism play out in Jeddah this weekend?

“Red Bull’s advantage was clear in Bahrain. But it was a pleasant surprise to keep up with them,” third placed Carlos Sainz admits. “It’s interesting how they can keep the C3 tyre alive for longer than the rest. How they tend to overheat less. Maybe that’s why their car also not as competitive in qualifying, but so good in the race on a track like Bahrain.

“More importantly, we’ve made a good step forward. That’s a relief because the last race where I was able to attack was Austria, about 13, 14 races ago. I love to attack, but it was simply impossible to do that with last year’s car. So I really wished we would have a car to go racing and attack with this year, and that’s exactly what we got! We had really good race pace last week and it felt great to finish third.”

Bahrain went better than Leclerc thought

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Charles Leclerc had a more difficult time in Bahrain with brake balance problems, but he still stole fourth “My issue didn’t get any better throughout the race, but it helped me to be more consistent.”

Leclerc pointed out after fighting his SF-24 home. “So considering all that, to finish fourth was a really good effort, but I’m disappointed with because, honestly, think that second place was very possible last weekend.”

“I don’t think there was much to take out of my race, but I was quite surprised that we were doing relatively good lap times with a car that was feeling completely out of place. All in all, my pace was better than what I expected with an issue like that, so that’s a positive for us,” added the Monegasque.

Fred Vasseur was frustrated by the problems. “Bahrain was not a clean sheet for us, we had too many small issues in quali, in the race,” the team boss grumbled. “The positive was that we found 50% of the gap to Red Bull in the race, compared to a year ago. We also had the pace for pole position with Charles’ fastest lap in Q2 session. The negative is that’s not enough, and once again we had too many issues.

‘We were able to fight with them’ Fred

VASSEUR Frédéric (fra), Team Principal & General Manager of the Scuderia Ferrari, portrait during the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix 2024, 1st round of the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship from February 29 to March 2, 2024 on the Bahrain International Circuit, in Sakhir, Bahrain - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

“That said, we were able to fight with them in the last part. So I think we have a good opportunity and a much better base to develop off this year. It’s easier for the drivers to get a feel of the car and improve it. It was much more difficult to do that last year. But the top ten is now also much closer and Jeddah. And it’s not the same layout, not the same tarmac, so Saturday will be a completely different story.

“I’m happy with the points we scored in Bahrain, so let’s be focused on this weekend, and start from scratch.”

So, what do we deduce from all that? Not too much, besides that we have a far better basis to work on in the SF-24. And its clear that Ferrari is working flat out to close that gap, while watching its back all at once. Here’s to a problem-free Saudi Arabian Grand Prix for Ferrari…

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