Sebastian Vettel is satisfied despite being second in qualifying. He feels Ferrari regained its old strength and he is happy for teammate Charles Leclerc’s first pole. But is Leclerc allowed to win this Sunday?

Actually, Sebastian Vettel shouldn’t be completely satisfied after this qualifying session at the F1 Bahrain GP 2019 in Sakhir. Only second fastest lap, yet, he congratulates his teammate Charles Leclerc. Vettel: “Already at the winter tests in Barcelona he showed his potential – now he has become a man with his first pole position in his pockets! It makes me happy for him, that’s an enormous achievement.”

However, the German admits: “Of course, one looks at his own position first, and I’m not 100 percent satisfied with how it went for me today. But you have to put that aside on a day like today when someone gets his first pole. He beat everyone fair and square – including me! Chapeau!”

Vettel

Vettel hatte in Q3 einen Schuss weniger als Leclerc. Credit: Ferrari

That’s Why Leclerc Beat Vettel in Qualifying

Being second behind Charles Leclerc with a gap of under three-tenth of a second is not completely his own fault. Ferrari brought Vettel into a pressure situation because they sent him out into high traffic in the second qualifying session. The German had to go out again, and hence sacrificed a fresh set of tires. With that, he had only one shot at qualifying for pole.

RTL expert Nico Rosberg: “Ferrari screwed up Vettel’s strategy. That was the team’s mistake. So, of course, it was hard for him against Leclerc. Mercedes showed how to do it – they didn’t have such problems.”

Vettel admits:” Of course, this affected my qualifying. In the second sector, I was a bit cautious because I had to set a time first. But most importantly, we did a good job with the car and are back in the lead.”

However, Vettel knows how long this race can be – with several chances to pass Leclerc. Vettel: “It’s important to have a car with which we can compete. I assume that the gap to Mercedes will shrink even more during the race and also Red Bull will have its say. The biggest challenge will be the tires and ensuring that you have enough speed at all times of each stint.”

The Heppenheimer admits that he is not quite as happy with the car as Leclerc. Nevertheless, he sends his regards to Maranello: “If you see how much we have improved since Australia, that’s a great team effort.”

Leclerc: “The car was amazing. In the last race, I wasn’t satisfied with my qualifying result, so I tried to improve and I did.” He also praises his team-mate. “Seb is an incredible driver. I’ve learned a lot from him so far and will learn a lot more. But today I’m happy that I stand in front of him.”

Leclerc

Stolz wie Oskar: Für Leclerc ist es die erste F1-Pole. Credit: ABMS

A brief moment of shock for Vettel after qualifying. Because he drove back to the pits too slowly in Q1, he was called to the race commissioners. No penalty was given, though. Vettel simply told the gentlemen that he had trouble with his breaking plates and was forced to go easy on them due to enormous vibrations.

Will There Be Another Team-Order?

BINOTTO Mattia Barcelona 2019
BINOTTO Mattia Ferrari. Credit: Ferrari

With both drivers in top position for the race on Sunday, Ferrari regained some old strength and the mood within the team has visibly changed. Last year was a very tough year for Ferrari. As ABMS and F1 Insider learned Ferrari Team Principle Mattia Binotto threatened to leave if Arrivabene remained team boss after several management blunders.

That’s why Binotto talks a clear language and demonstrates leadership to his team and the media. Based on the experiences from last year, he determined from the beginning of the season that Sebastian Vettel will be the driver who will be supported in this year’s world championship fight and not the young Charles Leclerc.

That’s why it was “no difficult decision” to give the order in Melbourne via radio. Binotto: “How we deal with such situations, is already known to the drivers before the race. In Melbourne, Sebastian was ahead with only ten laps to go, so we didn”t want to take any chances, we think that’s the way to go and both drivers are aware of that.”

That doesn’t mean that Leclerc is the number two driver – not in a traditional sense: “We don’t forbid Charles to fight for the pole or lead a race,” the Italian clariflies. Important is, however: “I must make sure that the two do not fight each other.” Because that’s how Ferrari lost the title in 2019 …

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