Leclerc: Haas, Alfa’s Q3 appearance shows Ferrari F1 engine progress


Leclerc beat Red Bull driver Max Verstappen to the top spot in qualifying for this year’s season opener, while Ferrari-powered Alfa and Haas – the teams that finished second-to-last and last in the 2021 constructors’ standings – finished sixth and seventh with Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen. 

Ferrari and its customer squads endured two very difficult seasons in 2020 and 2021 after losing significant engine performance as part of the manufacturer’s settlement with the FIA over the controversial arrangement of its engine in 2019. 

But Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto had said ahead of the Bahrain race weekend that he believed it had caught up a 25bhp power deficit to Mercedes and Honda (now badged as Red Bull Powertrains) with its work for 2022, with his drivers and those at Ferrari’s customer squads going on to enjoy strong showings as a result in Saturday’s qualifying at the Sakhir track. 

When asked by what he felt those results said about Ferrari’s engine gains, Leclerc agreed it was “a step in the right direction”, but also insisted Haas and Alfa also deserved praise for their respective 2022 chassis designs. 

He said: “I haven’t seen the data [from qualifying] yet, but it definitely felt better than last year and it’s a step in the right direction.  

“I think that obviously one Haas and the Alfa shows the we’ve made a step forwards.  

“But it’s not to underestimate the work that they’ve done, because they were also very quick in corners. I think it’s a combination of both – the car and the engine.  

“But speaking of ourselves, it’s definitely a step forwards and we look quite strong on the straights now. So, it’s good to see this.” 

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Carlos Sainz, who qualified just 0.129s slower than Leclerc in third, said Ferrari “cannot underestimate the progress done on the power unit side”, but warned his team needed to continue to find power gains where possible (F1 engine designs are now frozen until 2025) due to the threat posed from Red Bull and Mercedes. 

In Bahrain GP qualifying, Red Bull topped the speed trap at 323.2km/h with Sergio Perez, with Verstappen clocked in at 0.3km/h slower in second. 

Ferrari, which has bigger sidepods than its closest rival and therefore could be being held back by additional straight-line drag as a result, was 11th and 12th on 316.6km/h for Leclerc and 315.9km/h for Sainz. 

The top Ferrari powered car in the qualifying speed trap was Mick Schumacher, who scored his best qualifying result of the season in 12th, at 318.4km/h – sixth in the ranking, with Magnussen seventh. 

“A big thank you and a great job to everyone in the power unit department,” said Sainz. “Because for sure it’s also helping the other teams.  

“We need to keep pushing because it’s not like Max was slow in the straights at all, or the Merc.  

“So, we need to keep pushing on that front. But at least this year it looks like we’ve done a step in the right direction and it’s good to see from the engine department.” 

Read Also:

  • Leclerc “surprised” to beat Verstappen in Bahrain F1 qualifying
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  • Bottas: “Pretty cool” starting next to Hamilton on Alfa F1 debut

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