With the second race in Bahrain being held on Sakhir's outer track, everyone expected Ferrari's performance to drop. Both drivers finished the race last Sunday out of the points, and the new layout surely didn't help the Prancing Horse challenger.
Sebastian Vettel dropped out of Q2, clocking a fastest time worth of the thirtneenth position; he will start the race form the seventh row, next to Antonio Giovinazzi. Completely different story for Charles Leclerc: the Monegasque did the unexpected, as he will start fourth next to Max Verstappen.
The Monegasque entered Q3 and went out on track with a new set of soft tyres for his first attempt. Surprisingly, Leclerc completed an almost perfect lap, as he said on the radio to his engineers, a lap that put him in second place. Once he came back to the pits, he climbed off his SF1000, knowing he couldn't do better than that.
He waited until the chequered flag. The surface didn't improve, and while Valtteri Bottas took pole, Ferrari realised Leclerc made a lap good enough to stay in fourth place, with just one attempt on track!
The Ferrari driver later revealed that he just had one fresh set of tyres and could only do one run in Q3.
“I am so happy with fourth place. We took a chance by going out at the beginning of the session in Q3. We could have waited, but because of the risk of traffic and because I had a clear idea of what to do, I chose to go out immediately and I managed to put together a good lap. After that, I got out of the car because I had no more new tyres and I knew that realistically I could not beat the time I’d just set" he said.
"I just wanted to get out on-track and do the job which we did.
"A few times this year, we've been qualifying further ahead than probably what we should have - he added - this brings us a lot of hopes for Sunday, and then it's frustrating in the car on Sunday, but let's be realistic.
"Going into the race, I have to say it’s a bit of a step into the unknown, having lost most of FP2’s track time which means I haven’t done a race simulation - he admitted - all the same, I think I got good pace today and I hope that will be the case in the race also. I don’t think we have the third fastest car here, but I plan to make the most of my start position in this race.”
"Tomorrow is going to be a difficult day. I don't think we are going to be as competitive as today.
"I don't think we are the fourth-fastest car on-track. Let's wait and see, but I'll try to maximise what I have" he said.