FROM SENT TO SAKHIR. A cold wind blows over Bahrain which gives the drivers and engineers some concern. Tomorrow (Friday) the engines will start for free practice for the first Grand Prix of the 2022 season. The wind brings sand to the Sakhir track, so that the tires lose grip and wear out more quickly. Then there is the aerodynamic effect: the new ground-effect single-seaters have never experienced these driving conditions. It will be the same situation for everyone, but who should suffer the most is the Mercedes because of its vertical and tiny sides. For the race, however, the wind is expected to subside.
The wind of optimism is blowing in Ferrari. «We are well prepared – summarizes Charles Leclerc -. We did all the tests we wanted without any serious problems. This is why in the end we had a smile on our face. Not for competitiveness, but for reliability and for how we worked as a team ». But when he has to hazard a prediction, the Monegasque driver is cautious. Favorite is Red Bull for what it has shown. Mercedes did not show off all the potential, but will soon be competitive again ».
Earlier this week, the Ferrari team principal had promised a Ferrari capable of fighting for victory from the first GP. «I am less optimistic: But we are not talking about gaps in the order of a second like in 2021 or even more like in 2020. We are close, we have to work, make the most of free practice and be at our best on Saturday. Then yes we would fight for the victory », adds Leclerc.
Ferrari indicated as the team to beat: is this an aspect that increases the pressure within the team? «Personally, I don’t feel extra pressure – replies the rider – on the contrary, I think it’s a positive aspect. In the end it is a good sign if there are those who expect us to be there to play it, it means that we did something good in the tests, and it was enough to make many people think that we will be in front. The important thing is not to get carried away, we were fast only in one test, but it’s nice to see these titles again, because in the last two years it was no longer successful ».
One last question concerns Sunday’s Grand Prix: what race will it be? “The new cars are overall more predictable when you are in the wake of an opponent. This allows you to follow the car in front of you more easily, at least until you get to be very close: at that point it doesn’t change much compared to the cars of 2021 ».