For the first time in two and a half years, Ferrari appears to have a realistic chance of winning a Formula 1 race.
- Charles Leclerc starts the Bahrain Grand Prix from pole position for Ferrari
- Reigning world champion Max Verstappen is second on the grid
- Australian Daniel Ricciardo struggled in qualifying, managing only 18th fastest
The Italian outfit starts Monday morning’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix with their drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz starting first and third.
Meanwhile, at the back of the grid, Australian Daniel Ricciardo has an uphill battle to score any points, starting 18th and looking well off the pace in his struggling McLaren.
After securing pole position in Bahrain, Leclerc said the Ferrari team was hoping a new season would bring better results for a team without a win since the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.
“The last two years have been incredibly difficult for the team and we were quite hopeful that this new opportunity for us was an opportunity to be back at the front,” Leclerc said.
The Ferrari pair is split on the grid by reigning world champion Max Verstappen, who again looks a threat in his Red Bull for the 2022 season.
After qualifying second, Verstappen said he felt the Red Bull team was in a good position to start the season strongly.
“I think we have a good race car which is important and with it being the start of the season, there are still a lot of things to learn,” he said.
“The Ferraris are, of course, very close and it’s going to be a tough battle, they have two strong drivers so it’s going to be exciting.”
One of the biggest surprises from the year’s first qualifying session was the struggle of the McLaren team.
Briton Lando Norris qualified 13th while Ricciardo could manage only 18th fastest.
Ricciardo underdone for season opener
Ricciardo missed precious time in his new car last weekend when a COVID-19 infection kept him out of the three-day testing session.
Prior to this weekend, Ricciardo had not driven his McLaren since the February testing session in Barcelona.
The Australian said the time he missed in the car had put him behind the eight ball at the start of the season.
“It’s been a tough weekend so far, unfortunately,” he said.
“Last time I drove in Barcelona, we left pretty optimistic, but we’ve got new kinds of challenges here this weekend.
“With the lost time last week, trying to get up to speed, it proved trickier than I hoped.”