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‘I was convinced he would have this reaction’ – Vasseur praises Sainz’s Bahrain performance after losing Ferrari seat

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Ferrari team boss Frederic Vasseur has heaped praise on Carlos Sainz for his assured performance en route to a podium finish at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which followed the Spaniard’s disrupted winter preparations.

Sainz entered 2024 having to deal with the bombshell news that Lewis Hamilton will leave Mercedes to take his place at the Scuderia next year, forcing the two-time Grand Prix winner to look elsewhere on the grid.

READ MORE: Sainz ‘pleasantly surprised’ by ability to keep up with Red Bull as he clinches podium in Bahrain

But he did his chances of landing another plum seat no harm with a battling run to third place in Saturday night’s race, including a couple of moves on team mate Charles Leclerc – albeit with the Monegasque managing brake issues.

Asked about how Sainz has processed the news, and how impressed he was with his race-day showing, Vasseur said: “Honestly, I was convinced that he would have this kind of reaction. It’s also why we decided to do the announcement quite early to turn the page and to be focused on this season.

“The reaction of Carlos was more than professional that he said, ‘Okay, I have one year to go, I will do my best from the first corner to the last corner of the season.’

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2024 Bahrain Grand Prix: Sainz comes out on top in key battles with team mate Leclerc

“Today [in the race he] was very strong, very solid, he did a very good job, and I’m more than happy with the job that he did.”

As for Ferrari’s weekend as a whole, Vasseur was left with mixed feelings after the high of being in the mix for pole position in qualifying and the low of Leclerc’s race being hit by technical woes as he fell from second to fourth.

READ MORE: ‘It was impossible to drive properly’ – Leclerc left disappointed in Bahrain after brake issues

“The positive was that we [would have been] able to do pole position with the fastest lap of the session, and perhaps that we compensated 50% of the gap with Red Bull in the race compared to one year ago,” he commented.

“The negative is that it’s not enough and we had again too many issues during the weekend. We need to fix the issue on Charles’s car with the brake, but I think overall that he did a good job. From the pit wall also, because we were able to save P4 in these conditions.”

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Sainz thrilled to have a car that allows him ‘to attack’ after racing to podium in Bahrain

Pushed on whether he feels Ferrari are the team to chase Red Bull, who recorded a one-two with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, Vasseur countered: “First, I’m not focused on Red Bull, I’m focused on myself and to try to get the best from what we have.

“It was not completely a clean sheet for us this weekend, we had too many small issues in quali and the race. Also, we have to consider that Jeddah will be a completely different story, it’s not the same layout, it’s not the same tarmac.

SUNDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: Ferrari nearly matched Red Bull in qualifying – so where did their race pace go?

“We’ll have a better picture on the global situation after Melbourne, probably. Before Melbourne, it will be difficult to have a clear picture of the championship.

“But if you compare one year ago we were, let’s say, one second away, and we are perhaps five-tenths today. It’s 50%, it’s not enough, we are still behind, but to score the points of P3 and P4 with the circumstances, I think it’s not a drama.”

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