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Ferrari looks forward to putting Red Bull under pressure


MELBOURNE: Thousands of red-clad Ferrari fans descended on Lygon St in Melbourne to party in the Italian restaurant district until the early hours of Monday following Carlos Sainz’s improbable victory at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Italian Formula One team hopes celebrations will continue at Suzuka in two weeks’ time after Albert Park breathed new life into the championship.

Sainz and teammate Charles Leclerc’s double in Australia cut Red Bull’s lead to four points in the drivers’ and constructors’ title races, a major momentum shift after Max Verstappen’s dominance in the Middle East .

Ferrari was fortunate that Verstappen caught fire with a brake problem at Albert Park, ending Red Bull’s two years of avoiding DNFs (non-finishes) on race day.

Ferrari nevertheless leaves Melbourne delighted with the pace of its SF-24 car after being beaten by Red Bull in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

“This weekend is good proof that when we put everything together, and I’m not sure we’ll be able to do it every weekend, we can put (Red Bull) under a bit of pressure,” said the team boss. Frédéric Vasseur.

“It’s when they are under pressure that they also make more mistakes. We must continue in this direction.”

With three-time world champion Verstappen leading the podium ahead of teammate Sergio Perez in the first two races of the season, Red Bull was blindsided by setup difficulties from the start in Melbourne.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Red Bull had not controlled the conditions while Ferrari, clearly, had.

“I think the nature of the surface (was also a factor). I think the graining of the tires here in particular was something that Ferrari seemed to control,” he said.

“Certainly, starting Friday, their long runs looked good.”

Perez, who finished fifth after his car’s floor was damaged, said Ferrari “absolutely” had the pace to beat Verstappen if the Dutchman had gone the distance.

However, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko was not convinced.

“I spoke to Max and he told me that, despite the problems, he was keeping up with Sainz’s pace relatively easily,” Marko told Sky Sport.

“With Max racing it would have been completely different.”

Ferrari may not know where it stands ahead of its next duel with Verstappen, who won 19 of 22 races last season and will be eager to fight back at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Mercedes, on the other hand, can have no doubt about their place in the hierarchy, with Melbourne also confirming their driver status.

With no championship points at Albert Park and their first double DNF since 2018, the Silver Arrows dropped to fourth place in the championship, 71 points behind leader Red Bull.

The freefall could continue as the Brackley-based team struggles to understand the hit-and-miss performance of their revised W15 car.

“We haven’t swallowed a stupid pill since 2021. It’s just that we don’t understand certain behaviors of the car,” said team boss Toto Wolff.


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