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    Charles kicks off with another front row

    Sakhir 01 marzo 2024

    Scuderia Ferrari had set itself the target of starting in Bahrain from where it left off in Abu Dhabi last year, just under a hundred days ago. Charles Leclerc did precisely that, given that, just as was the case in Yas Marina, he will start tomorrow’s first race of the season from second on the grid, alongside Max Verstappen. It’s his sixth consecutive front row start, a run which began in Austin last October. Carlos Sainz will start from the second row in fourth place alongside George Russell.

    First 2 parts. Sainz got out of Q1 on his first attempt with a great 1’29”909, while Charles’ first run was a 1’30”243, so the team was minded to send him out again on a new set of Soft tyres, but he aborted the attempt once it became clear that his previous time would be good enough to make the cut. In Q2, both drivers started off on used Softs before switching to new ones with which they comfortably made it through to the next part, to the extent that Charles’ time was actually the fastest of the day: 1’29”165.

    Q3. When it came to the top ten shoot-out, Carlos went out on new Softs, while Charles opted for a set that were part worn from Q1 setting a time of 1’29”490, 59 thousandths off the best time set by Max Verstappen. Sainz posted a 1’29”608, which put him sixth, just five thousandths slower than Russell. Charles and Carlos then went out on their last sets of new Softs, the Monegasque getting down to 1’29”407, unable to repeat his Q2 time and had to settle for second place. Carlos improved to 1’29”507, a tenth off his team-mate and 22 thousandths slower than Russell.

    Charles Leclerc #16

    It was a good qualifying after what has been quite a tricky weekend. We tried a few things in the free practice sessions and I found the sweet spot in qualifying. We went out on a set of used tyres at first in Q3 which compromised our rhythm a bit, before switching to a new set but overall, it feels like we are in a better place than we were at the start of last year.

    We have to wait and see where we stand in terms of race pace and Red Bull still seem to be a step ahead of the rest of the pack. I'll take any opportunity we have.

    Carlos Sainz #55

    It was a super tight session and all in all it hasn’t been a bad first qualifying for the season. In Q3 we were not able to really put everything together, but we are in a decent spot for tomorrow’s race in P4.

    After testing we are confident that we have improved our race pace compared to the beginning of last year, so I’m looking forward to finally going at it tomorrow and finding out where we are on pace. Let’s kick-off the season with a good one!

    Frédéric Vasseur Team Principal

    We were P1 in Q1 and Q2 so it would lead you to expect we could do a P1 in Q3, but it did not go that well, as we did not manage to put everything together on the last lap. But generally, our performance was encouraging as we were on the pace through all the sessions. That was only the first step of the weekend, now we will see tomorrow what is the situation over the long runs. As we’ve been saying since the beginning of the weekend, it’s very difficult to read the winter test and we are still completely in the dark about fuel levels.

    From what we have seen so far, it’s possible that this year Red Bull will not have the kind of comfort zone they had last year and maybe more teams could put them under pressure when they have to make decisions relating to strategy or even set-up.

    Looking ahead to the race we will focus first on ourselves: we want to verify if the car is more consistent in terms of tyre degradation, which seems to be the case, and then we will see what we can bring home. The first target is not to leave any points on the table.