SakhirThe resort starts at the most beautiful moment. Like those who left the stadium before the 90th, the party before the last cut. The first playoffs of the season put on a distorted showing.
Leclerc goes at the check balance, giving up the last shot. The most exciting, most awaited, roar of disbelief. It’s the house major for Charles, 18 pole starts in his career, one more than Jackie Stewart, the Scotsman who won three World Cups and who was yesterday here, in the paddock, with belted trousers and sponsor outfit from a “tour guide” for a high-speed VIP tourist.
The usual adrenaline, for up to a few minutes from the end. When Ferrari says enough is enough and Sergio Perez doesn’t think it’s right to sit in the front row seat next to Max Verstappen, without even suffering. On the previous attempt, Charles had reached a tenth of the Dutchman, amazed at “being so close”, yet forced to give up due to the careful selection of the low wall. Not worth trying against those two out there, that’s the point.
Red Bull lived up to expectations. Max cut his time here last year by 9 tenths (he was second only to Charles) although, like everyone else, he lost 30 percentage points of downforce due to the new rules on car surfaces. Huge jump, and the potential seems higher in racing than in qualifying because of the ability to run at extremely low heights off the ground. Ferrari chose the path of sacrifice, the path of salvaging a set of tires to be available today. Bolt to try to restart on the counterattack. It was the right choice, we discussed it with Charles. Points are scored on Sunday, trophies are not won by poles. “It was important not to get too emotional,” explained Fred Vasseur. Leclerc is in tune with the new president – after all he supported his arrival -, He shares the decision: «It is better to take the third set with a new set than the second with used tires». The can worm remains Pole failure: “Could I have done it? Looking at the first attempt, it was excellent, and I still had some margin, I would have come a lot closer… We were stronger than I expected. I’m happy with the way we handled it.”
It remains to be seen if this move will bear fruit, but what the “Joker” value of the tires will be? The difference between the new soft compound and the one already in use is estimated at two to three tenths, which is a very small profit. But it’s an option that could be useful, in attack, in a safe car scenario, for example: attack those in front with better traction and then dictate the pace by exploiting the engine power and straight-line speed of the new Ferrari.
On first inspection, the 2023 power unit made it possible to compensate (or mask?) A still not perfect balance that tire degradation problems result from. The aim is to protect sites, and limit damage while waiting for technical updates, and Sainz also has the task of keeping Fernando Alonso at bay. The author of “Others Pole”, happy with fifth place with Aston Martin ahead of Mercedes: “It seems incredible to be able to fight with them. Speaking to the designers, they tell me that this is just the beginning.” He is convinced he can continue to climb today, and Ferrari’s move should also set him apart. Apart from Nando, the hierarchies are back to the usual ones, Sainz who was better than Leclerc in the tests, now behind: “In any case, one step further, there will be suffering. But we are ready.”
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