The place where Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had bagged his maiden career pole and as it turned out, his first ever F1 podium was Sakhir, the home of the Bahrain Grand Prix. But that was 2019, the pre-covid era, a time where the greats like Vettel and Raikkonen roared on the grid.
But if one were to describe the current affairs in the dramatic world of F1 as seen after the recent season-opener, then perhaps stating the following may not be absolutely wrong:
The place where Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc looked certain to bag what would then have been a twenty fifth F1 podium but was robbed off it for little fault of his own was Sakhir, the home of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
In some ways, it ought to be said, Bahrain’s often fetched this mixed bag of a result for the Ferraris. It’s often been, if not always, a hunt for the podium, if not its top step for the Italian stable here.
And on a day where anything that could go wrong, did go wrong for the two Ferraris, there wasn’t too much in the bag for the Fred Vasseur-led team.
But again, Charles Leclerc’s misery was truly felt!
Though, it ought to be reminded that the famous Monegasque’s race start was quite admirable. After a poor getaway from Red Bull’s Checo Perez allowed Leclerc to jump onto second on the grid, one did feel that the true battle from thereon in was between Max and Charles.
And things weren’t too downhill as such until the latter stages where one saw the big setback for the Ferrari frontman.
On lap 41, with Charles Leclerc firmly positioned on P3 and looking set to bag his maiden podium for 2023, the SF 23 suddenly suffered a technical malfunction and began losing speed.
Resultantly, Charles stopped the car at the end of an approaching corner and had to race retire.
What fuelled further disappointment for the 25-year-old’s team was that even as his teammate Sainz bagged third, the noted Spaniard had to cop the position as he found the marauding pace of Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin too much of a challenge to contest.
The Ferrari, eventually, lost the top three finish and the most that they could salvage were 12 points thanks to Carlos’ P4 finish in the end.
But what had really happened to Charles Leclerc and what did Ferrari find?
So far, there’s nothing too substantive that’s out there in the public domain. But Leclerc, who arrived at Maranello at the start of 2019 has cried aloud to his side to find out the reason behind the frail Ferrari result.
In the post-race interaction, the following is what Leclerc exclaimed, a driver who really was a second off the Red Bull pace despite battling in on third, seconds before his sudden DNF:
“Red Bull seems to have found something really big during the race pace. In terms of qualy pace, they are actually pretty similar to us or at least we managed to extract the lap time yesterday, but then we come to the race and we are a second every lap off the pace, which is huge. Bahrain is also a very specific track, so I hope that the picture can change a little bit from the next race, but we cannot rely on that, we need to work and find something.”
He’d further add, “So, we really need to work into that, plus the reliability.”