Binotto pleased with Ferrari comeback in Bahrain qualifying

by Sudha Sundararaj

Scuderia Ferrari bounced back from a disappointing performance at the season-opener in Australia to lock out the front row in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ferrari also led the way in all three Free Practice sessions at the Bahrain International Circuit, with a sizeable gap over rival Mercedes AMG Motorsport.

Despite Mercedes reducing the gap in qualifying, Charles Leclerc took the very first pole of his Formula 1 career ahead of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari set the pace in winter testing, but at the Australian Grand Prix, it struggled with both drivers finishing off the podium.

In the intervening two weeks, the team said they identified the reasons for the lack of pace in Melbourne.

Team principal Mattia Binotto said Ferrari had made corrections for the second race in Bahrain, with the performance in Free Practice and qualifying offering ample proof that the changes are working.

“We are all very pleased for Ferrari, for Charles’ very first pole, for having locked down the first row and for our comeback after Australia,” said Binotto.

“The team reacted strongly and worked well, united and focused – it’s a great team, a very good team.

“There’s also an excellent spirit of cooperation between our drivers and Charles is indeed a good kid.”

Sunday’s race has the Ferrari drivers starting on the first row with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas right behind them in the second row.

Binotto stressed the importance of reliability following Ferrari’s engine issues in Melbourne – a problem not restricted to the works team, with customers Alfa Romeo Racing and the Haas F1 Team also reporting abnormalities.

“Our qualifying pace was good but it was a tough one and it’s tomorrow that really counts,” he added.

“It’s a very long way to the chequered flag and reliability will be important.

“We need to stay calm and concentrated, as our rivals will be trying to make our life difficult tomorrow.

“It’s a long season, so let’s take it step by step.”

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