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Sainz: "Pleasant surprise" to keep up with Red Bulls in Bahrain F1 GP

Ferrari Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz reckons it was a “pleasant surprise” to be able to keep up with the leading Red Bulls during the 2024 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Max Verstappen ignited his title defence in commanding fashion, guiding his RB20 from pole position to victory by 22.4 seconds over team-mate Sergio Perez, also nicking a bonus point for fastest lap.

Sainz rounded out the podium a further 2.5s in arrears, the Spaniard having twice passed struggling Scuderia stablemate Charles Leclerc into Turn 1 as he fights to secure the most competitive available drive for 2025 now that Lewis Hamilton will take his place at Ferrari.

Sainz was able to hang onto the coattails of fifth-starting Perez through the second half of the race despite running the harder, and theoretically slower, C1 Pirelli tyres - in addition to driving around misaligned steering following a Turn 1 knock with the Mexican.

As such, Sainz reckoned it was a “pleasant surprise” to be able to give the reigning constructors’ champion something to worry about during the 57-lap GP.

He said: “I felt really good out there today. The start wasn't ideal but from then on, I just managed my tyres well and then from there, I could do my pace, overtook two or three cars on the way to the podium and then keeping up with a Red Bull there at the end, which was a pleasant surprise.

“Still, not enough. Not where we want to be. But a good step forward compared to last year and a solid start to the season.”

 

Perez indicated that Sainz was given a slight helping hand, with the Red Bull driver having to manage excessive sliding across tyre compounds in addition to an engine braking issue.

Sainz, by comparison, reckoned his Ferrari SF-24 settled down on the hard tyres as he could keep temperatures under control.

He continued: “We had a very clear plan using [the] soft [compound] and then two hards.

“With the hard in our car, we feel a bit more comfortable because it overheats less, it degrades less.

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“It is a bit of a trickier tyre with warm up and with front locking. But then once we get it working in our car, you can push on it.

“In the Red Bull, you can see different traits, different strategy choices, but I think also that's the beauty of F1. We could play around a bit with strategy today.”

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