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“A car that is capable of winning feels incredible” – Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc took Scuderia Ferrari back to where they belong, on the top step of the podium, after winning the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix with team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr making it a Ferrari 1-2 at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Leclerc has cemented his place as a serious championship contender, after a dominant display under the lights in Bahrain, the Monegasque driver controlled the entire race and when needed to battled Max Verstappen superbly. Leclerc made an excellent start from pole and was instantly in control of the race, this all changed though after the first round of stops, where Verstappen who went for the undercut was right behind the Ferrari driver.

The pair battled brilliantly for several laps, something which we will certainly be seeing a lot more of this season. Leclerc held on beautifully though and got back into complete control of the race, opening up a reasonable gap in the process. This gap disintegrated however when a late Safety Car was brought out due to a fiery Scuderia AlphaTauri. Pierre Gasly grinded to a halt on the exit of Turn 3, with his AT03 quickly going up in flames.

Leclerc would’ve been concerned about having Verstappen right on his gearbox all over again, however he had no reason to fear, the World Champion was forced into retirement just as Leclerc was about to restart the race. The Dutchman suffered multiple reliability issues at the exact same time, ending his hopes of victory.

It meant Leclerc was able to comfortably countdown the remaining laps to claim his third career victory, and his first perfect weekend, after claiming pole position, victory and the fastest lap.

Leclerc feels unbelievable having won the opening race in the new era of the sport, the Monegasque was modest though in recognising that hard-work will be needed all season.

Coming into this season, we knew we would be in a better position than we have been for the past two years, but we didn’t know exactly where we would stand. To be back on top with a car that is capable of winning feels incredible. A huge thank you to our whole team, you’ve done an amazing job and this victory is for all of you. The race was tough and I gave it my all. Whenever I had a bit of margin behind me, I felt in control of the race and was managing the gap well. But after the first stop, things became more tricky.

“Max challenged me three times and I had to position myself in the right way to reclaim my position each time he passed me. Once the Safety Car came out, we lost the gap we had created and had to start again from zero. I knew I had to do the best restart possible and I am glad I got the job done well. Car development will be more significant than in previous years and we have to stay on top of our game. As for this weekend – we did everything right. Pole, fastest lap, the victory and second place for our team. Forza Ferrari!

“One of the hardest days since I joined Ferrari” – Carlos Sainz Jr

Carlos Sainz Jr ran in third place for the vast majority of the race, the Spaniard found the race difficult and even believed it to be one of the hardest of his career since joining the team. Despite all of this, Sainz Jr made it a 1-2 for the Prancing Horses for the first-time since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

Sainz Jr whilst being somewhat unhappy with the way he felt in the F1-75, recognises that for the time being it’s all about celebrating the team’s incredible performance.

“This is definitely a day to celebrate for the entire team. Starting the season with a 1-2 is the perfect reward for the tireless work they have done over the last two years and congrats to Charles on a solid win. We also want to share our joy with all our tifosi around the world because we always felt their support even when we were not fighting at the top.

“For me, I’m very happy with the result but I’m not particularly happy with my race. It was probably one of the hardest ones since I joined Ferrari. I wasn’t feeling at home with the car and we need to understand why. But today it’s time to celebrate this amazing result all together. The great effort to bring Ferrari back to the top, where it belongs, has paid off today and everyone deserves to enjoy it. We’ll keep pushing next week in Saudi. Forza Ferrari!

Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

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