The first Sprint of the season saw Scuderia Ferrari finish second courtesy of Charles Leclerc and fifth with Carlos Sainz. The race, which was interrupted on the opening lap by the Safety Car following Yuki Tsunoda’s accident, was closely contested to the very end of the 17 lap distance. Leclerc led until lap 8 when he had to give best to Sergio Perez. However, Charles was able to fend off the attentions of Max Verstappen in the other Red Bull all the way to the chequered flag, thus bringing home seven points for second place. Meanwhile, Carlos fought with Verstappen and George Russell in the early stages, but after the restart, he ran a rather solitary race, stuck between Russell and Fernando Alonso.
Important data. As expected, Red Bull, had a better pace today than that of the SF-23, but Charles and Carlos are eager to try and do even better tomorrow in the 51 lap Grand Prix. The team will be able to count on data from the Sprint to further fine tune preparation of the SF-23 and get the most out of it. Tomorrow, at 15 local time (13 CET), Charles will start from the pole position he secured in Friday’s qualifying, while Carlos lines up on the second row in fourth spot.
I wanted to go for the win but at the same time, we knew that it would be difficult due to the race pace advantage Red Bull Racing have. It’s where we are lacking and what we are focusing on improving the most. On the positive side, we have a strong qualifying pace and have made a good step in the right direction since our last race in Australia. Let’s see what is possible tomorrow.
‘This weekend has not been an easy one for me but we’ll keep going at it. We managed to bring home some points and I’ll try to build from there. Hopefully, having completed more laps today, tomorrow I can work around the main limitations and maximise the result. The weekend is not over yet and in Baku you need to be ready to grab every opportunity, so now it’s maximum focus until the race is over.’
Frédéric Vasseur – Team Principal
‘When you start from pole and don’t bring home the win, you cannot be totally satisfied with the outcome. Having said that, Charles and Carlos produced the race we expected and delivered a good result. In Melbourne, we saw we had made progress and I think that so far this weekend, that has also been confirmed here. In qualifying trim we were quicker than Red Bull and in the race, we were able to fight with Perez and Verstappen, even if we saw there is still some work to do in terms of pace.
Today, we’ve been able to try the Medium tyres and run the car with a heavier fuel load, which produced some useful data for us to analyse with the aim of getting even more out of our package tomorrow, when Charles again starts from pole position.’