Carlos Sainz has conceded that he did not have the pace compared to his team-mate Charles Leclerc during the Bahrain Grand Prix, but is delighted that his Ferrari team are back at the front.
It looked as though Sainz would end the race third behind Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen until Pierre Gasly’s retirement caused a late Safety Car, and the Spaniard was able to pass the 24-year-old a few laps from the end, benefitting from a mechanical issue on the Dutchman’s car.
Verstappen then retired with some kind of power unit failure and, with Sergio Perez retiring through an issue of his own, Sir Lewis Hamilton ended on the podium comfortably behind the two Prancing Horses.
Overall, though, the 27-year-old struggled for pace this weekend, and vows to improve upon this ahead of the next race in Saudi Arabia next weekend.
“First of all, congrats to Charles, congrats to Ferrari,” he said in the post-race interview.
“Ferrari is back, and it’s properly back with a 1-2 where the team should have been over the last few years but the hard work is paying off and we are there.
“For me, it’s been a very tricky weekend I’m not going to lie, I didn’t have the pace today but managed to hold on to the end and bring home the 1-2 for the team.
“I have some homework to do over these next few days and I’m sure I will come back stronger.”
He sympathised with Verstappen’s retirement having been battling for the win, but is not complaining as it helped the Scuderia achieve maximum points in Sakhir.
“At the restart I had a good, strong sense [that Verstappen had an issue] because I had a very clean restart behind Charles and Max,” he explained.
“He defended well to be fair, and then suddenly I started seeing some flashing red lights on the back of his car and I said ‘this is my chance’ and I went for it.
“He was unfortunate, today I think he was driving well enough to get P2 but I had a good run on him and then he had to retire but it is what it is and it’s good for Ferrari.”
Ferrari’s 1-2 is their first since the Singapore Grand Prix since 2019 and the first time they have opened the year with a 1-2 since 2010, as they seek a first championship of any kind since they sealed the constructors’ crown in 2008.