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F1 Bahrain GP reactions: Ferrari ‘back with a bang’ as Leclerc ‘tames the beast’

The Tifosi celebrate a stunning one-two for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

Formula 1 is back and so are Ferrari. At the season-opening grand prix in Bahrain on Sunday the Scuderia scored a superb result with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz leading the team to a one-two finish. 

Getting the campaign off to the best possible start, it was an unforgettable night in Sakhir for the Maranello squad. This was Ferrari’s 85th one-two finish in F1, their 239th grand prix win and the third victory of Leclerc’s career. “He drove a perfect race, securing the first hat trick of his career, namely pole position, fastest race lap and the win,” Ferrari said in their post-race report

With 31 titles and more than 1,000 race starts, Ferrari are the “most successful and historic F1 team”, Sky Sports said. However, they haven’t won the drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen’s win in 2008. 

In Bahrain their victory was “comfortable yet emphatic” and it points to a welcome return to contention for the titles. 

Not only did they out-pace Mercedes but they also out-lasted Red Bull. Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell finished third and fourth respectively while the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both retired. 

Duo are ready to fight for the title 

Last competitive in 2017 and 2018, it’s been a long road back to this point for F1’s most famous team, said the BBC’s Andrew Benson. With Ferrari “finally back” at the front of the grid, can Leclerc mount a title challenge? The 24-year-old’s “consummate” victory put him in a strong position but “it means little at the start of F1’s longest ever season other than one very important point: Ferrari are back with a bang”.

Speaking after the victory in Bahrain, Monégasque driver Leclerc said it was “amazing” to see the team “in the mix” at the top of the standings. “Coming into the season we surely knew that we were going to be in a better position compared to the past two years but we didn’t really know where,” he added. “And now we see that we are actually in the mix to fight for the title so it’s amazing! We’ll fight for it, for sure.”

Spanish driver Sainz believes it’s “where Ferrari should be” and “it’s where Charles and I want to be in our lives, fighting for world championships”. 

‘Unforgettable double’

The Bahrain GP was a “stunning opening” to the 2022 season, said GPBlog. Ferrari’s return to the “top step” got plenty of praise, “especially in the Italian media”, while Red Bull’s “complete collapse” received a lot of attention from the international press.

In Italy, Gazzetta dello Sport hailed the return of “the red” and the “unforgettable double” for the Scuderia drivers. Referring to the team’s winless run the paper said: “Finally Ferrari, finally the red is back! And as in fairy tales it was a prince who broke a spell that lasted from 2019.” 

Corriere della Sera backs this Ferrari team to compete for the world title. They are “strong, fast, reliable” and if you give a competitive car to Leclerc, he wins. “You make him happy. Like giving a toy to a child, he has fun.” 

Spanish newspaper Marca also praised Leclerc after he “tamed the beast”, reigning world champion Verstappen. Leclerc was “wonderful from start to finish” and it was an “epic” battle between the two, which anticipates a “new great duel” throughout the course of the season. 

The next race on the 2022 F1 calendar is the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah from 25-27 March.

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