Sainz hoping Leclerc pole heralds ‘new season’ for Ferrari

Carlos Sainz is hoping Charles Leclerc has paved the way for Ferrari this season after securing pole in Baku

Carlos Sainz is hoping Charles Leclerc has paved the way for Ferrari this season after securing pole in Baku

Carlos Sainz is hoping Ferrari’s dreadful F1 season so far has finally turned a corner following a superb qualifying performance from team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc pulled out a stunning lap ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to secure his first pole of the season, his third in a row around the Baku Street Circuit, and the 20th of his F1 career.

This, however, was arguably the most surprising as Red Bull has so far crushed the opposition this campaign to leave its rivals floundering and searching for answers on how to close the gap.

Leclerc finished almost two-tenths of a second clear of reigning champion Max Verstappen, with a disappointing Sainz fourth, eight-tenths of a second down.

Asked whether he was surprised the SF-23 was good enough to fight the Red Bulls for pole, Sainz replied: “Yeah.

“At the end of last year was also the case where we were fighting for poles and lacking in the race.

“This year, up until now, we have never had never the pace to fight for pole.

“It looks like the changes we’ve done recently are allowing us to be back in there, and there are still upgrades to come.

“So hopefully it’s a sign, or the beginning of a new season, and we have found the problems with our car.

“Congratulations to Charles because putting a Ferrari back on pole is great news for the team and a huge boost of motivation.”

Can Ferrari overcome tiresome tyre woes?

The question now is whether Ferrari can challenge Red Bull in the race, as the reigning constructors’ champions have been in a different league on Sunday.

So far this season, Ferrari has struggled with tyre degradation during a grand prix, leaving a question mark hanging over the car and team.

As to whether tyre degradation will improve around the Baku Street Circuit, Sainz added: “Very good question.

“We hope it will because it will definitely mean we haven’t only changed the set-up towards making ourselves faster, but also towards making the deg better.

“We’ve changed the car around from the first couple of races (in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) and it’s paying off. It paid off in Australia and it’s paid off in Baku.

“That’s why I’m so puzzled that after doing such a good step in Australia with myself with the feeling of the car, here I’m trailing.

“Puzzling, but at least Charles managed to keep the good trend going.”

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