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    Great podium for Carlos, a super fightback from Charles

    Scuderia Ferrari - Suzuka 2024, Podium

    Suzuka 07 aprile 2024

    After the most difficult qualifying of the season so far, Scuderia Ferrari made up for it on Sunday in Japan, leaving Suzuka with a third place courtesy of Carlos Sainz, while Charles Leclerc fought his way up from eighth on the grid to fourth at the flag, a strong points haul confirming the team’s second place in the standings. Ferrari put its drivers on different strategies, aiming to bring home the best possible result. This was the team’s fifth podium finish in four races, including Carlos’ win in Australia. Ferrari is now on 120 points, 21 behind the leaders Red Bull. That’s almost double the total after four races last year, when the fourth round in Azerbaijan also included a Sprint. This is Sainz’s 21st podium, the third from the three races in which he has taken part this year. Charles was voted “Driver of the Day,” the Scuderia drivers winning this accolade at every race so far this season.

    Carlos. His race was a long chess game of tyre management against those around him. At the start, Carlos fended off Fernando Alonso who was on Softs and from then on he set off in pursuit of Land Norris. Carlos did a brilliant job of getting everything out of the SF-24 on the Medium tyres, extending both his stints, which paid off in the final stages when he had to make up almost ten seconds on the McLaren driver with 16 laps remaining. He did just that on Hard tyres that were ten laps younger than those of his rival. Carlos had the pace to catch Norris and pass him with nine laps remaining, to take fourth place before immediately getting ahead of Charles who, on a one-stop strategy was managing his Hard tyres. Sainz is now fourth in the Drivers’ championship, four points behind his team-mate in third.

    Charles. Leclerc staged a great climb up the order, which was based on a brilliant job of managing his Medium tyres for 25 laps after the second start, after the race was red flagged on the opening lap following a collision between Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo. The team opted to fit both cars with new Mediums, with the aim of going the full distance with just one more stop. This saw Charles even lead for a few laps before fitting Hard tyres with 27 laps remaining, just as Lando Norris made his second stop. From then on, the Monegasque was able to fend off the Englishman, running a good pace despite being on a very long stint. He did not waste time holding up the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, preferring to manage his tyres and he also let Carlos, on much fresher tyres, get ahead. Clever race management therefore saw him got from eighth to fourth, no mean feat on a Suzuka track known for the difficulty it presents in terms of overtaking. 

    A first Sprint next. The Formula 1 World Championship resumes in a fortnight’s time with the Chinese Grand Prix returning to the calendar after five years. The Shanghai International Circuit will also be hosting the first Sprint weekend of the season.

    Carlos Sainz #55

    It was a good day for the whole team. We executed a very solid race and brought home a lot of points, maximising the potential of our package. A strong couple of starts kept me in a good position and from there onwards we managed it perfectly with very strong pace on both compounds and good overtakes to make the strategy work. We obviously want to fight a bit further up, but if we keep pushing like this, I’m sure we will have more opportunities. Now it’s back to the factory with the team and from tomorrow we’ll start preparing for China.

    Charles Leclerc #16

    Looking just at today’s race, I’m quite happy, because there is nothing that we could have done better. Our pace, tyre management, communication and strategy were all really good. However, what prevented us from getting a better overall result mostly comes down to our qualifying yesterday. Since Australia, we’ve had some difficulties putting the tyres in the right window on the out laps in qualifying, which is something we never struggled with before, so we really have to focus on that in the next few days to make sure we can put it all together in China.

    Fred Vasseur Team Principal

    Today, our team worked in a calm and focused manner to achieve its goals. We made a real step forward over the winter and the results of that can be seen on track. We had a very solid Sunday, securing the best result possible after a difficult qualifying yesterday and that’s something we definitely have to work on.

    The team did everything perfectly in the race, from strategy to tyre management. Both drivers did an excellent job in managing their respective strategies. With Carlos starting nearer the front we could be more aggressive so that he finished on a charge, pulling off several great passing moves. We were a bit more limited with Charles, as he was down in eighth on the grid, but he drove an excellent first stint and so we were able to execute a one-stop strategy that meant he made up a lot of places. Looking at the result, it’s clear there is still room for improvement if we want to put Red Bull under pressure and that’s what we’d like to do as from the next round in China.