The Monegasque, who started third in Bahrain and qualified second-fastest in Saudi Arabia, beat Red Bull to the top spot for the first time this season, before repeating the feat on Saturday morning in F1’s first-ever sprint qualifying in which he also claimed pole.
The result came after Ferrari endured a difficult weekend in Australia, and in the aftermath of the news of the impending departure of sporting director Laurent Mekies, one of the key players at the Maranello outfit.
PLUS: Why Ferrari is struggling and how it can turn its F1 fortunes around
A change of philosophy on set-up had shown signs of promise in Melbourne, although the team didn’t get it right in qualifying, and its weekend unravelled thereafter.
In Baku, things finally came together and it was rival Red Bull that faltered.
“I’m more than happy for everybody in the team because they’ve done very hard work over the last month,” Vasseur told Autosport.
“And I think even under pressure we took some good decisions in terms of development and set-up, and it’s paying off.
“I think it was also good in Melbourne, but we were not able to put everything together, and Charles did a mega job.
“It’s not an achievement, because quali is not an achievement, but it’s a milestone into the season. A pole is always good for the confidence.”
Vasseur admitted the team was relieved that the car maintained the performance that was hinted at in Australia.
“You will never be able to draw a conclusion on one event,” he said. “Melbourne was quite cold, and it’s not a permanent track.
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23
Photo by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images
“We did a step between Jeddah and Melbourne, it was quite obvious for us, it was quite obvious for the drivers.
“But still we had a doubt also because we didn’t put everything together. But this weekend from lap one we were into the pace.
“OK, it’s not the end of the weekend, and we didn’t score points, but it’s a good milestone for the team.”
Ferrari also benefited from making the most of the single FP1 session, which was shortened by a red-flag period.
Unlike some rivals, the team opted not to bring a significant update package, other than low-drag Baku wings, to ensure that it would not lose time trying to optimise new parts.
“I think on these kinds of formats, if you start with an issue on the balance, it’s much more difficult to react,” said Vasseur. “Because you will carry the issue, long…
Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Autosport.com – Formula 1 – Stories…